How to step up collections practices in 2012 for your urology practice

May 1, 2012

If you're like many urologists, managing collections is becoming an increasingly important-and none-too-pleasant- aspect of running your practice's business.

Leave the big jobs to the professionals. Do you have large patient balances that your billing staff has struggled to collect for months? When a patient has ignored three or more statements along with letters and calls from staff without making an effort to pay, your chances of collecting that balance directly from the patient decline precipitously-and that means that dedicating staff time to the effort is probably not the best use of precious labor resources. Leaving these probably uncollectible balances in your receivables also distorts your practice's financial picture and makes it difficult to project how much potential revenue is really on the books.

Effective collection starts before the visit. These days, collecting is a team sport! The best way to make sure your practice collects what it is owed from patients is to collect the patient portion while he/she is in your office whenever possible. This means many members of the office staff have something important to contribute to the process.

Be sure insurance verification includes gathering information from the payer about the patient's responsibility and what patient payments can be collected at the time of service. This is especially important at the start of the year, when deductibles are likely still unfulfilled. When reminder calls are made, include a reminder about outstanding balances and anticipated time-of-service payments. (If your patient is coming in for a preventive screening such as a PSA test and no deductible applies, that's a great opportunity to remind him of that good news.)

Now that you know what you can collect and have advised the patient that payment will be expected, the next step is to be sure your front desk staff is ready and able to collect. Coach your staff to ask for payment without embarrassment or hesitation: "How will you be paying your co-pay today, Mr. Green?" and not, "Would you like to pay today, Mr. Green?" Your practice deserves to be paid for the services it provides.

Make it easy for patients to pay by accepting a full range of credit cards. Some practices are still shying away from comprehensive credit card acceptance because they're put off by processing fees. But when you consider that the total handling cost of a mailed statement is estimated to be as much as $30, credit card processing fees pale in comparison. DO shop for the best rates, but DON'T let the need to pay a percentage stop you from offering this option to patients.