Streamlining Your Collections

Tips to Improve Your Performance

Patient/Client Billing

Those patients/clients who do not pay cash at the end of their appointment must be billed through the mail. Most offices receive a large portion of their monthly earnings in response to these billing statements. A person who receives a billing statement in the mail may or may not pay it fully or promptly though. The accounts manager can increase the percentage of patients/clients who promptly pay their bills through the following:

    • Send all bills out promptly. Most people tend to pay bills that come in closest to the beginning of the month and postpone bills that are received later in the month. Determine exactly when you are going to send your bills out, and get them prepared a couple of days prior to sending.
    • Make sure that bills are neat and professional in appearance. A neatly written or typed bill carries more authority than a sloppy one. Computer billing offers the most efficient and neat method of billing.
    • The accuracy of your bills is very important. Itemize the services performed. Avoid repeating a charge on the bill that has already been paid. Ensure that the spelling of the name and address is correct.
    • Indicate a due date on your billings. Any amounts that were previously billed, but not paid should be listed separately and the balance carried forward.

Collecting from Insurance Companies

While there is not really one best way to streamline claim processing, the following are some suggestions to avoid unnecessary delays:

  • Use electronic filing wherever possible.
  • Use approved insurance claim forms. Some other forms are easier to complete, but may not be processed as quickly.
  • Pre-print your identification information on the forms.
  • Pre-print your most frequently performed procedures on the forms. This helps to avoid typographical errors.
  • Submit your findings for predetermination of benefits any time extensive service is needed.
  • Have patients/clients bring their claim form with them to the first visit and have them fill out their section first.
  • Mail all claims from your office if not filing electronically.
  • Remind patients/clients that insurance plans are intended to help them pay for care, not to pay the entire cost for them.
  • Explain clearly and concisely, prior to service, what the patient’s/client’s financial obligation is.
  • Come to a mutual agreement about the assignment of benefits.

Working Patient/Client Accounts

The collections position involves more than just sending out bills. Often the accounts involve some work. Therefore, an accurate records and a tracking system must be developed which will keep the accounts manager informed on when to expect payment and how much to expect.

Maintaining Accurate Patient/Client Records

Your office should maintain a separate financial record for each family or individual patient/client. Financial records can take the form of a computerized account or a patient/client ledger card. In either case, the name on the account should be that of the person responsible for payment of bills.

Every financial transaction should be recorded in the correct account or ledger card. Every charge and every payment received should be recorded. This is done regardless of whether the payment is received at the time of service or not, in response to a bill sent by mail, or from an insurance company. The more details in an account, the better. This card or account becomes the source for the patient/client’s monthly statement showing charges and payments.

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