In today’s reality of high deductibles and large patient responsibilities’, patient collections are seen throughout the revenue cycle. When calling to schedule an appointment, patient due balances should be collected while on the phone. Once insurance eligibility is verified, patients should be contacted to notify them of the expectation for them to meet their responsibility at the time of service. At check-in, any uncollected past due balances and co-pays should be collected. Payment at time of service must be an expectation set by the clinic and upheld by staff. Checkout is the time to collect all co-insurance and deduct proportions.
Check-out collections are typically the most difficult for a number of reasons. The first is, naturally, that staff do not know what to collect. Beyond training and utilization of technology to know what a patient insurance coverage, copay, co-insurance, and deductibles are, is the knowledge of the cost of the day’s visit. This knowledge relies on clinic staff and providers getting this information to the checkout team before the patient leaves. If the clinic has not been able to accomplish this a majority of the time, then collection is difficult. One solution, besides allowing patients to leave without any payment, is to estimate an amount owed. The way I suggest clients do this is to review the past year’s appointments and charges for each provider. This combined with the provider’s coding productivity leads to a visual trend and an average charge per visit type.