5 Tips to Improve your Medical Practice's Billing and Collections

"Efficient billing and collections processes are critical components of a successful and profitable medical practice. Yet most practices leave between 5 percent and 30 percent of their reimbursement on the table because they lack proper processes, staffing, training or technology. Industry experts say the first 80 percent of payments are relatively easy to collect. It's the next 20 percent that are harder to obtain and more expensive to collect. Follow these recommendations and regain control of your billing operations..."

1. Verification of benefits and patient registration
It is increasingly important to verify a patient's benefits prior to the date of service. It can decrease the cost of collections, minimize the risk of writing off a balance and significantly improve your cash flow. This is also an opportunity to address outstanding balances and co-pays.

Now, explain how you make this a priority or reasons you are having difficulty completing this task!


Motivating Debtors to Pay - The Effective Collection Tools

The overall goal or game plan for all commercial institutions is maximizing revenues with the fewest telephone calls and collection letters. Developing and implementing effective collection techniques requires skillful communications skills.

Collecting delinquent accounts is an art but, in many cases, a necessary evil for achieving revenue goals. In my 35 plus years of collecting and managing large collection staffs, I have found greater successes result from techniques which emphasize positive attitudes and motivational approaches with debtors. Contact with debtors should include phrases such as, “Mr. Debtor,my name is John Doe, I ‘m with the 3rd National Bank and calling because your account is past due and the bank wants to know you are able to make it current”? Typically responses fall into one or more of the following categories: “I’m currently unemployed and looking for work”, “my hours have been reduced”, “my husband is temporarily laid off or “my wife is unable to work for the next several months”. The positive approach is showing concern for the debtor’s unfortunate circumstances and responding by saying, “Mr. Smith, you’ve had a very good record with the 3rd National Bank over the past several years and would certainly want to help you return to that status. So let’s work on a plan that is acceptable to the bank and you”.

Greater successes have resulted with this or similar approaches than with more aggressive and unsympathetic tones. Of course, there are going to be many situations under which this approach might not be feasible with the bank’s operational policies, specifically when it involves secured loans. For example, in the case of automobile loans, the bank’s policy might state that secured auto loans cannot be more than 2 contractual payments past and must be brought current within 2 weeks or repossession shall be considered. Always keep in mind communications with debtors should be positive and carry motivational tones, regardless of whether collecting secured or unsecured loans. This approach has always achieved much success for many, many years and, more importantly, banks do not want to repossess any type of vehicles or litigate for deficiency balances.

May the Banking Industry See Greater Prosperity in 2012

Banks are hoping for much greater economic activity and growth in 2012. But, based upon the latest economic statistics, we are looking at a sluggish 2.0%. Many economists are speculating that a slow movingeconomy will be attributed to new and lingering banking regulations. For example, larger banks will be required to limit their financial ties to one another under new proposed rules aimed at preventing the collapse of one big institution from triggering a larger, cascading crisis.

The net credit exposures between any two of the nation's six largest financial firms, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., would be limited to 10% of a company's regulatory capital, under a proposed package of regulations released by the Federal Reserve on Tuesday. Most other firms covered by the rule would be subject to a 25% limit, as required by the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law.

The new 10% limit for the biggest firms was unanticipated by the banking industry and has the potential to scale back the capital-markets businesses of large institutions, analysts have said.

Credit restrictions are just one piece of a tougher set of regulations the Fed has drafted which apply to the nation's largest, most complex financial firms. These stricter rules are aimed to reduce the ability of any single financial giant to damage the financial system and the broader economy, and is one of several ways Dodd-Frank attempts to end the "too big to fail" phenomenon that led to huge taxpayer-funded bailouts.

It is quite apparent that the more the federal government imposes its iron hand of federal regulations upon banks and related credit companies, increased inefficiencies will negatively impact bottom-lines. This result ultimately decreases investor incentives and could also negatively impact respective stock values; hence 401k and other retirement financial vehicles.

Well, folks these trying times have resulted from a class of economic illiterates who not occupy most government agencies but elected officials who are primarily concerned about their own well-being and re-elections.

Good Luck and call us to help your financial institution see more black than red!