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Collections: Tame the beast

Collections: Tame the beast Q. How can I get organized to realize potential patient revenue?

A. Turning your potential revenue into actual revenue is looked at as something scientific and difficult to achieve. In all actuality, it needs to be managed individually like any other department. Unfortunately, patient collections don't always get the attention necessary until the revenue is essential for survival.

Like denial rates and aging, patient collections are their own beast. The same type of data must be analyzed and questions need to be asked of all involved. Is the ball being dropped? Are processes streamlined? Have patient collections been assigned to an employee to manage? How long is it taking from date of service to get the bill out the door? How long is it taking to receive payment from the patient? The longer it takes to get the bill to the patient, the more likely the patient is to feel he or she doesn't owe money, decreasing your chances of collecting payment.

Using your current billing system to track any potential revenue is a start. Change existing or create new processes and use the resources that have been available the entire time. Create special reporting using a coding system to generate and track. The same type of reports used on the front end should be used on the back end.  Confirm that your current system is capable of producing the data necessary to manage patient collections. If it isn't, then find a patient collections management company that does. Sending invoices quickly is necessary, but making sure they are correct is mandatory. This means not only having correct billing practices on the front end, but also proper payment application practices. If patients with a revolving balance continue to receive incorrect invoices, they will eventually assume another provider can get it right. Plan the project, organize the failures and do not repeat the past.

Kit Shellhouse is vice president of operations for ECS Billing & Consulting North. Reach her at kshellhouse@ or 419-448-5332.


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