How Well Do Parents Know What You Do As a Pediatrician?

It’s hard to appreciate the value that pediatricians provide when one is not aware of exactly what it is that pediatricians do.

During the summer months, I posted on our practice’s Facebook page, a note encouraging parents, to schedule their children’s wellness visits.

Although the message was for our entire Facebook community, I wanted to catch the eye of parents with teenagers. Don’t know how well you manage teens in your office, but in our office, we have decent wellness visit numbers with younger patients. The teen population?

Not so much. Once the teen years kick in, we mostly see them when they are sick.Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 11.48.51 AM

I wanted to encourage parents to make their wellness visits but also throw in a subtle nudge to parents with teens.To get their attention, I opened with this line: Did you know pediatricians are trained to treat children from birth to adolescence? Then I went on to talk about the importance of wellness visits etc.

Something interesting happened. The post outperformed other Facebook post. It received more likes that than the ordinary. But that the surprise me. What surprised me the most, were the comments from parents.

One mom said, “it’s good to know the pediatrician can see my teen.”

Another said, ” Timothy is going to be so happy when I tell him Dr. B can still see him.”

WHAT WAS THE LESSON?

It’s an age-old lesson. It’s a lesson on assumptions and what happens when we make them.

That simple, otherwise ordinary status update, got me thinking about how well (or not) we communicate what it is that we do as pediatricians. If so many people weren’t aware that pediatricians can treat teens and beyond (0-21), what else don’t they know? The irony is that our website is tagged with the line “Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.”

OPPORTUNITY

We clearly have a communication problem. And I would argue that our lack of proper communication about what it is we do as pediatricians (more than runny noses and giving shots) is why many parents don’t see the distinction between a retail clinic and a pediatrician.


 

It’s hard to appreciate the value that pediatricians provide when one is not aware of exactly what it is that pediatricians do.

 


 

The good news is that there is a significant opportunity for pediatricians to cover a lot of ground. How so? By using social media channels to educate our community about all the great services we are trained to provide.

I also believe that leveraging this opportunity could aid your practice in differentiating itself from the competition.

WHAT IS YOUR COMMUNICATION STRATEGY?

Since I realized there was a chasm between our assumptions and the reality, I’ve been intentional about informing our community about the training, knowledge and expertise our pediatricians can address.

Some of it may seem too obvious for those of us that do this every day. Like explaining the importance of wellness visits.

But the truth is, some parents don’t know about yearly wellness visits. They assume that because the child no longer needs shots, they don’t need to go to the doctor.

Beyond promoting wellness visits, I use many of the things included in the Bright Futures guidelines as a way to highlight that a visit to the pediatricians is highly comprehensive.

And by educating our population, I’m also marketing our practice in a unique way. Instead of mentioning in a promotional piece that we accept most insurance plans, I may mention that how we can provide family support, safety and injury prevention, or mental health.

MARKETING STRATEGY

Not only is promoting and sharing this information relevant and valuable to parents, but I also think it is an excellent way to differentiate ourselves from the MinuteClinics or other medical services that overlap with pediatrics (i.e. Urgent Centers, Family Practice, Telemedicine).

YOUR CHALLENGE

Think about your medical practice’s communication strategy, or lack thereof. What is your practices unique selling proposition? What problems do you solve that others don’t? Then think about how best to communicate your message. Also, consider the channels you’ll be delivering your message. By channels I mean, traditional advertising, email campaigns, social media, etc.

Remember, each channel is unique, thus requires you to craft the message differently.

I’ll leave you with this… times are changing. That is certain. And we have two options, two paths to choose from. Disagree with how things are changing, or find ways to agree with the shifts in a way that benefits you and your practice.

A Vital Aspect Of A Medical Practice That Practice Managers Cannot Afford To Overlook

A wise person once said, “a gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flair.” Therefore, the best way to dismantle anger, frustration, disorderly, disruptive or unruly people, is by employing respect, candor and kindness.

When we talk about managing our practices more efficiently, we think about negotiating with insurance companies, proper coding, practice financials, revenue per visit, E&M code distributions and a bunch of other objective things.

I find it interesting, however, that we put so much focus on maximizing revenue and minimizing cost, but ignore a topic that far consumes our time. And arguably is more important to the “health” of a pediatric practice than the things we consider “best-practices.”

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 11.59.51 AM

The topic I’m referring to is “people.” Specifically employee and parent/patient interactions.

Poorly managing how people interact with one another can have far-reaching consequences and be far more devastating than say, a bad payor contract. But how much time do we spend on honing interaction with people of our practices?

Medical practices revolve around people. We all know that we spend more time with co-workers than we do with our families. And due to the nature of our business we are engaging with people hundreds of times a day.

Most of these interactions go without notice, but many result in conflict. And the ones that result in a conflict (all it takes is just one) carry the potential to rip through the fabric of your practice.

LET’S TALK ABOUT A CONFLICT FREE WORKPLACE

The unhealthy tension in a workplace is disruptive and highly counterproductive. Unresolved conflict ruins a company culture. And a weak company culture is like a bad cough. You can’t hide it.

Consequently, addressing tension in the workplace is just as important if you want your practice environment to be a collaborative, mission-driven, high performing practice.

HERE IS WHY THIS MATTERS TO YOU AND YOUR PRACTICE

Happy employees enhance the company’s culture. Content, conflict free employees make for a better workplace, as well as create a pleasant experience for parents/patients visiting the practice.

All this translates to patient/parent satisfaction.

TIME TO EXAMINE

Now, think about how your practice employee treat unruly parents? Does you or staff become defensive or perhaps condescending? Do you unintentionally patronize them using tone, language or body language?

How about coworkers or your practice partners? During conflicts, do you push back as hard or harder as they push you? Are you passive aggressive? Do you have contempt for them? Are there harbored resentments, unaddressed conflicts, unsettled disputes?

THE FIRST STEP

Now, disagreements, arguments, tension, miscommunications, hurt feelings, etc. are unavoidable. The only way to eliminate those kinds of issues is to live by yourself (and even then you have to deal with yourself). We will always have issues with parents, co-workers, partners, and vendors. It’s just part of working with people.

But the key to a conflict-free workplace lies in how each of us reacts to the tension.

Our behavior during or after the conflict will ultimately determine if the issue perpetuates or is resolved.
Think about someone you don’t like. It could be a co-worker or even a relative. Now think about how your behavior is affecting the relationship. Is your behavior making things better or worse?

THE SECOND STEP

When things get emotional and, conversations go from casual to critical, the worst of us usually comes out. Pushing back starts us down a bad path that is often hard to recover from.

We know that being defensive, condescending -or my favorite, sarcastic- doesn’t lead to a path of resolution. But these three things do set us up on the right path:

Respect, Candor & Kindness

Sounds simple. Too simple in fact. But what is the alternative?

A wise person once said, “a gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flair.” Therefore, the best way to dismantle anger, frustration, disorderly, disruptive or unruly people, is by employing respect, candor and kindness.

I’m not suggesting this is easy. Some people get on our nerves. You may even feel the urge to provide too much candor. Other situations are unfair and responding with respect and kindness is difficult. And the truth is some don’t deserve your respect.

But even so, fighting fire with fire doesn’t make things better. But fighting fire with water gives us a chance to resolve.

So the next time things start to get heated with a parent or even a coworker remember, that how we approach a conflict will largely determine the outcome.

Increase Your Medical Practice’s Bottom Line In One Easy Step

A few months before we opened the practice, we picked up a flyer inviting doctors, billing and coding staffers to attend a coding seminar in town.  It looked like something we ought to go considering we were about to open our very own private practice and had zero billing and coding knowledge.

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 2.57.08 PM

About one minute into the lecture, I was lost. I had no idea what they were talking about. I was merely a marketing guy and had no idea about managing a practice, let alone billing and coding.

But I didn’t worry. My wife was a few years out of residency at the time, so this logical questions ran through my mind: surely this coding thing was still fresh in her mind?

As the trainer continued talking in a foreign language (I later found out was divided into two dialects, CPT and ICD9) I assured myself …doctors are taught this peculiar character/numerical dialect during medical school and then get the change to master it during residency. It would be as foolish as having a sail boat with no sails to not teach doctors how to bill and code. Besides, how do you pass the boards without knowing billing and coding? 

I had nothing to worry about.

What? You’re as clueless as I am? Didn’t you pass the boards? You mean to tell me that in those 3-years they didn’t even give you a lunch seminar on how to get paid for your work?

My next thought was, Oh boy! We are a deep, deep, sh… I mean 787.91.

Here is the thing, as ridiculous as not teaching residents at least the basics of billing and coding may sound, what’s more ridiculous, is that many doctors don’t do anything about it. Few docs – knowing very well that billing is coding determines their pay – learn how to document and code properly. Many don’t even go to coding seminars regularly.

Instead, may docs (not the ones that read this blog, of course) blame health insurance companies or blame their EMRs for getting payed less while to do more. All of which is likely true.

But here is a hard truth. If you’re a health provider and you do not take the time to learn and stay current with with coding and billing guidelines, then you need to get the list of all the things you blame for declining pay and write your name at the top of that list.

Why? Because the loss of revenue is happens in your examining room as a result of poor documentation and poor coding. 

Fundamentally, most pediatricians are doing the work. But because they lack knowledge and awareness on how to document and bill as a result of not keeping up to date they are leaving countless dollars – dollars they’ve worked for – on the table.

It also is worth mentioning that relying on your billing and coding team is not an excuse to not to keep up to date on coding and billing guidelines. To put it in perspective, putting all the responsibility on your billing and coding department is like asking your nurse or MA to take full responsibility for your patients.

And I’m not diminishing the role of clinical support staff or the coding and billing department. My point is that RNs and MAs, as well as billing and coding personnel, are there to assist.

If want to improve your medical practice’s bottom line in one easy step, all you need to do – for starters – is:

Attend a coding seminar,  pronto!

I’ll guarantee you’ll increase your bottom line.

You’re welcome!

How To Implement A Credit Card On File Program For Your Medical Practice

mmp_logo_for_web53My friend Mary Pat Whaley from Managementmypractice.com recently published a FREE 30-minute webinar where she introduces the concept of Credit Card on File exclusively for PediatricInc subscribers.

How cool is that? 

Actually, that is partially true. The webinar is in fact free. But it is not only for PediatricInc subscribers. It is available for everyone! (I got carried away).

Even though this is only a 30-minute webinar, Mary Pat covers a lot of ground. Below is a list of what she goes over:

  • What are the Four Steps to implementing CCOF?
  • Is it legal and PCI-complaint to keep a credit card on file?
  • How do you get the patient’s signature on a credit card transaction if they are not physically in the practice?
  • What if the patient refuses to give us a credit card or does not have a credit or debit card?
  • Credit card fees are expensive! Why would I want to increase my credit card merchant fees?
  • Do practices usually ask Medicaid and Medicare patientsto keep a credit card on file?
  • What impact will the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) have on practices with or without a credit card on file program?
  • Is there a Payment Gateway or Credit Card Processor that you recommend?
  • What are the major benefits to using a credit card on file program in a practice?
  • What other resources are available if I want to implement Credit Card on File in my practice?
  • Attendee questions and answers

If you’ve followed me on social media for some time, you know I’m a huge fan of the CCOF program. At Salud Pediatrics, we instituted the COF in 2009 and never looked back. I’d say it has been one of the best decisions we’ve made.

Sure, we’ve ruffled some feathers. Some parents still get defensive. But the overwhelming majority of parents in our practice understand why it is necessary for us to do this.

Below, I’ve embedded the webinar. Make sure to visit managemypractice.com after seeing the video. They have a lot of great resources and a fabulous, informative blog. Mary Pat was also an early guest on the Pediatric Practice Management AwesomeCast. You can check out the interview Chip and I did with Mary Pat by clicking here.

Enjoy!

 

 

What A Mud Run Can Teach You About Managing Your Medical Practice

photoA few weeks ago, I completed my very first mud run.

A mud run is a 5K run with obstacles and mud, lots of it. Imagine a military style obstacle course with climbing walls, balance beams, mudslides, mud pools, mazes and all kinds of fun and crazy stuff.

Doing a race like that brought a lot of personal satisfaction. It was a lot of fun and I would probably do it again. But the mud run – and the events leading up to the race – also did another thing for me. It reminded me of an important principle that we often forget in life and in business.

Let me share with you how I was reminded of this important lesson.

I workout somewhat regularly; so I wasn’t too nervous about completing the race once I signed up. But at the very least, I knew I needed to keep up my current workout and healthier eating habits.

Not too mention the fear of having my family – particularly my 7yr old boy – see dad (the almighty one), gas out before the end of the race also kept me going. I couldn’t have my reputation as a Jedi Night be questioned, if you know what I mean. 

Committing to the race, however actually gave me further motivation. The race was like fuel to my mind to maintain discipline with my workouts.

Not only did the fuel help me push myself harder, it also came in handy when I didn’t feel like working out. More times than I can count, I was tempted to skip my workout. I’d say to myself it was too hot, or I was too tired or I had too many things to do at home. But as soon as I started to find excuses to bail, the mud run commitment would pop into my head.

So what did I do? I’d get my butt out the door and go workout. And on race day, boy was I happy I was disciplined in my preparation. My work outs paid off.

So where’s the lesson; where is the business principle that I was reminded of?

The lesson or principle I was reminded of was the power of setting goals for yourself and your practice.

I was reminded that unless we commit to set specific goals and or objectives for ourselves and our medical practice, we rarely find the motivation or discipline to reach milestones, make improvements or push ourselves to do better.

If you want to improve, accomplish, achieve, implement, increase, or whatever it is for you, you have to be intentional about it. A specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goal is the only way to help you and your practice stay on track. 

A Challenge

The end of the year is approaching. We are in the last quarter of the year.  So I’d like to challenge you to think about and write down two or three things you want to accomplish by year end in your practice.

It may be something you’ve been putting off since the beginning of the year or perhaps it is that idea you’ve been meaning to implement but by the time you finish all the day to day stuff, you are out of gas.

Regardless of what it is, write it down (be very specific about it), and set yourself a time line to accomplish your practice goal. Maybe even share it with your peers, friends, boss, pet dog… I’m serious too (not serious about the dog). Accountability helps as as well.

If you take my challenge, I’m confident you will have an awesome sense of satisfaction knowing your made a commitment, worked towards keeping that commitment and completed what you have set your eyes on.

And as a bonus, your Jedi Night skills will surely not be put into question.

Is Your Company’s Culture Hindering Your Profitability?

1-IMG_0089I come from a non-medical business world where most conversation centers around profit, revenue, budgets, marketing, sales and things like that.

In the private  practice world, mentioning profit or revenue is almost prohibited as if it was a kind of taboo.

I remember being a little taken aback when people in the healthcare business would talk about “profit” and they would lower their voices and look around and whisper the words “making money” to ensure nobody outside of our conversation heard the money reference.

In our practice, we take a completely different approach. In our practice, we don’t apologize for our pursuit of profitability.

We are very upfront with both patients and our staff about the need to be profitable.

We view “profitability” as a responsibility.

Why? Because a broke doctor doesn’t do anybody any good.

Profitability allows the practice to hire the best docs, hire the best staff, buy the best equipment, send staff to training, pay for docs’ CME’s and all the other things that go along with ensuring patients receive the best medical care possible.

Top notch medical care is expensive.

We believe so strong in this, that in our practice, we discuss profitability in practice’s core values document. Here is an excerpt from our company’s charter:

In order to carry out our mission, we recognize that every staff member must take every opportunity to decrease cost, to increase efficiency, and earn revenues that support our team, our practice and our patients.

In today’s health care climate,  practice employee must be comfortable with talking about money. They need to know that not only is it okay, but a necessity.

Thus, I suggest it is important to “bake” revenue into the culture of the practice.

Fundamentally, this approach sets the expectation. Employees understand that collecting copayments and balances at the time of service is vital to the practice’s mission.

By openly talking about money,  employees understand that the money that comes in to the practice isn’t the doctor’s money, but it is everybody’s money. Collecting from both insurance companies and parents is where the practice gets the money to pay everybody’s salary.

In primary care, this is even more critical because we are in a low margin, high volume business.

And it isn’t just collections. Keeping down cost an unnecessary expenses is just as important. In pediatrics, for example, drawing up vaccines incorrectly, dropping a dose on the floor or simply keeping poor inventory can make the difference between profitability and loss.

Want to avoid revenue leaks an increase profitability? Start talking about money.

Embed it into the practice’s culture.

Please don’t misunderstand me with this point. I’m not suggesting that we only think about money. That is not what I’m suggesting. After all, we are still healthcare providers and things like empathy, caring, understanding, healing, compassion and sacrifice are all part of what we do day to day.

But what I am saying is that if there isn’t enough “margin” docs and their staff won’t be around to be empathetic, caring, compassionate and heal patients. In other words, we can’t help people in need if the practice is also in need.

Are You Being Intentional In Your Medical Practice?

starting-blockLike many of us, I was gaining weight year after year. And of course, every couple of months or so I’d have plans to eat less and exercise more. I’ll just start making better choices; I’ll also bring food from home instead of eating out for lunch everyday; Oh, and I can also start walking in the evenings with the dog. These were all these things that I kept on telling myself and others.

Of course, you all know what happened. I never stuck to my imaginary goals. Why? Because I wasn’t intentional. I was expecting my lifestyle to change by chance.

After a few days, I’d go back to my normal lifestyle and forget all about drinking less Cokes and laying off the fries.

One day, I said enough is enough and I got intentional about my health. First thing I did was enroll in a boot camp sort of class. After a few weeks of paying to get my butt kicked from here to next week, I started to lay off the sweets, Coke and french fries.

After a few more weeks, my motivation started improving. I actually started adding another workout sessions during the week by walking our dog at a nearby park.

My wife and I started planning our meals for the week and with that plan in place we’d go to the grocery store with the intent of buying the menu we’d laid out.

Business is no different

In business, the same scenario applies. We say, we need to do better with revenue; we need to reduce our A/R; we should improve our coding; but shortly after, we abandon the “we should… we need to… we ought to…” and we go back to our mediocrity.

Here is the thing, very few business have the fortune of stumbling upon good fortune. Change isn’t going to happen on its own. Your A/R isn’t going to improve because you said in a meeting, “…we need to improve our A/R!”

For something to change, it requires energy, motivation, a plan, work, discipline and dedication. If you need to improve on something, be intentional about it. Focus like crazy, create a sense of purpose and don’t let up.

It is really the only way your medical practice (or your weight for that matter) is going to change for the better.

Now, tell me, what areas of your practice do you need to be intentional about?

How to Deliver Exceptional Service In a Medical Office

I wrote a piece for FiercePracticeManagement last week that I wanted to share with you all.

The piece talks about an experience I had while I was on vacation. I was trying to reschedule an appointment I had the next day with my doctor. The experience turned into a little ordeal that frustrated the heck out of me.

frustration

One part I didn’t mention in the piece due to word limit constraints is that during all this rescheduling fiasco, I was out of the country. Thus, I was using very expensive international pre-paid minutes while I was trying to connect with the doctors’ offices ( I had to deal with two offices). Even the otherwise non-big deal of being put on hold for several minutes felt as if money was falling out of my pockets never to be seen again.

I also had a terrible internet connection that was at best very, very slow, and at worst, non-functioning. All that added to my frustration.

If you are interested in reading about my ordeal as well as learning my thoughts on how I think is the best way to avoid these type of fiascos in our medical practice, click on the link below

Empower employees to bend the rules to wow patients.

Oh, and if you liked the piece, show some love in the comment section. Or share it with your friends and colleagues by using the social media sharing tools on the site.

Want to Learn How to Implement a Credit Card Program in Your Medical Office? Here’s How

Credit CardOne of the best decisions our practice has ever made, has been requiring parents to leave a credit card on file. We’ve done this since 2009 and it has really worked well for us.

The most obvious advantage is that this policy reduces your practice’s account receivables.

I also like the policy because it shifts the risk of not getting paid to another party, namely the credit card company – which is a far better entity to handle financial risk than a medical practice.

The list of advantages of implementing a program like this is quite long. Yet many medical offices are still reluctant to implement this policy.

I understand why many are hesitant and apprehensive. It is not a simple task. And the implication of a poorly executed implementation can have significant consequences.

For those practices that are on the “not-so-sure-boat” I have good news.

My friend Mary Pat Whaley from ManageMyPractice.com will be conducting a seminar titled “Starting a Credit Card on File Program in Your Practice” that I think will help your practice implement a credit card policy.  The topics look to be very promising.

The program will include the following topics:

  1. Worksheet for Credit Card on File Program Return on Investment (ROI)
  2. Staff Script & Role Playing Suggestions for Staff Training
  3. Sample Security Policy to Comply With PCI Guidelines
  4. Credit Card on File Program Timeline Worksheet
  5. Credit Card Program Comparison Worksheet
  6. Patient Handout #1: Information About Our Credit
  7. Card on File Program & Discontinuation of Statements
  8. Patient Handout #2: What is a Deductible and How Does It Affect Me?
  9. Sample Patient Agreement for the Credit Card on File Program

Even though we already have a credit card program in place, I plan on attending this seminar. I think there is something I can learn to improve our program.

I’m also a fan of Mary Pat.  She is incredibility knowledgeable.  I also appreciate her work because she always goes the extra mile. How so? Well not only does she tell you what you need to do and why, she also gives you samples, scripts, training tips, templates and all kinds of resources you need to implement what she is teaching on.

Considering how much money your practice will collect using this policy, this program should cost at least $2000. And at that price, it would  be a bargain. Pay $2000 to learn how to collect $100,000s seem like a good investment.

But because Mary Pat and her team at ManageMyPractice.com is so awesome, she is giving PediatricInc.com readers a $1,940.05 discount.

So you will only have to pay $59.59 for this webinar.

Editorial Note: I made up the $1940.05 discount thing, but everything else I believe to be true.

To learn the times and how to sign up, click on the link below.

Starting a Credit Card on File Program in Your Practice

How to Decide on a Collection Company For Your Medical Practice

In our experience, collection companies do very little to help out with collection efforts. For starters, pediatricians’ medical offices balances are generally small when compared to hospital charges, ER charges or even surgery charges.

If you were in the collection business and got a commission for your efforts, would you try to collect on $10,000 or $100? In other words, our accounts are not high on the priority list.

I also think that by the time we turn over a bill to a collections company, more than 120 days have gone by. And we know that the longer an account is delinquent, the harder it is to collect on it.

The truth is, the best collection company for your medical practice is, your medical practice.

And your goal, as a manager of the practice, is to use your own billing company as little as possible. And in order to that, you have to put in place a protocol that minimizes the chances an account goes to collections.

Now, how do we ensure that?

Glad you asked.

Here is what has worked for us:

1 – Every single private patient MUST leave a credit card on file. No exceptions.

2 – We collect copayments at the time of service, ALWAYS. What about if the kid can’t breath and they don’t have their wallet? There are exceptions, of course, but those sort of things rarely happen. If they are dying, they shouldn’t be  in our office in the first place.

3- We collect balances at the gate (code word for front office). If the account is past due, you won’t be seen. Unless the kid is dying, can’t breath or has an unresolved issue.

4 – With large balances, we call the parent as as soon as we know about them. Not to collect but to make them aware. The sooner we do this, the better. The purpose of the call is to initiate dialogue and awareness.

5 – Every 15 days, after the first statement goes out, we contact the patient either by mail or phone. We usually alternate phone with letters.

6 – We make available an Easy Pay Program where we set up patients on a payment plan. We only set this up with a credit card or a debit card. We don’t send out coupons or allow parents to “remember” to send in payment.

7- At 90 days, after we’ve called and sent letters, and the patient still doesn’t respond, we process the card they have on file. This is spelled out in our policy, which they’ve agreed to.

8- With our collection letters, and phone calls, we never threat with sending the accounts to collections. Our letters and phone calls are designed to encourage people to call. Not to threaten them. When you threaten people, they generally do two things. They either push back or get angry. Sometimes both. Either of which gets you NO money. Thus, we choose to kill’em with kindness.

Even after all that, some people still fall through the cracks. But far less than the alternative.

If they do fall through the cracks, we send the accounts to collections. We also send them a dismissal letter and follow our dismissal protocol.

Emotionally, however, I’ve resigned. In my heart I know we did everything we could have done. Unlikely that the collection company could do better. If they do, great.

9 – Before we send the accounts to collections, we attach 40% to the balance (also written out clearly in our policy; which the parents have signed and dated) to cover the cost of the collection agency should the collection be successful at their attempts.

10. In my view of the world, the collection is on us. And the more we do upfront, the less you’ll need to use a collection agency.

Usually, when I go through our collection policy, I always get somebody that says, “Brandon!” “Why don’t you simply check eligibility?”

Our practice management system checks eligibility. But the system basically checks to see if that person has coverage under that insurance company. I find that the issue isn’t so much about determining if the person has insurance or not, but rather if the patient has bought enough insurance to cover our services.

Thus, determining benefits are more important. However, checking benefits is like chasing the wind. First, it consumes WAY too much time. Sure, you can check online these days. Knock yourself out if it works for you. Still a waste of time I think.

Second, there is absolutely no guarantee that the insurance will pay for services, even after getting a human on the line and asking them specifically if the services will be covered.

The insurance company will tell you point blank “…even though I’m confirming this patient is eligible and has covered benefits, we can’t promise it will get paid until we process the claim.” To which I murmur under my breath, why in the world did I just spend 20 minutes on the flipping phone call then if I’m not going to get a guarantee?”

I’ve resolved that issue by asking people to leave a credit card of file. Not only am I shifting the liability of payment to the parents, I’m saving time.

I’ve written about this issue a few times. If you would like to learn more about our collection efforts, and how we go about it, check out the links below.

Patient Collection Letters, what is your approach?

Does Your Medical Practice Have a Problem with Bad Debt? Here is a Solution

Medical Practice Collection Letters that Work – With Samples