The front office desk executive in a physician’s practice has numerous functions to carry out such as understanding the patients’ information related to demographics and finance which is needed for effective billing, the responsibility of communicating the financial policy, and knowledge of insurance plans involved in the practice among the many other routine functions essential for managing front office tasks. However, some functions that a receptionist or front desk executive may perform are complex; for instance, pre-authorizations which require knowledge of insurance policies and procedures to avoid losses and errors.
The front office executive in a medical practice juggles with many tasks at the same time and these can range from greeting the customer to use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Moreover, the executive should also be aware of billing codes such as ICD-10 or ICD-9 along with numerous other aspects such as scheduling of appointments, rescheduling when the patient is leaving in order to keep the practice busy and avoid losses, patient education about basic policies and procedures involved in the practice or the delivery of healthcare, and other physical tasks such as using the office equipment efficiently. However, such multitasking can have an impact on the productivity of the practice with long term negative financial consequences.
Tasks such as preauthorization, patient scheduling and other jobs related to revenue have an impact on medical billing, for instance entering the charges can have a direct impact on the revenue and denial rate for the practice. Moreover, the recent reforms have made numerous changes in the way healthcare is delivered and these have affected the daily routine procedures carried out in a medical practice. A paperless environment, introduction of innovative IT services, changes in insurance policies, and changes in medical billing and coding has made it clear that a receptionist’s work has not only changed in nature but involves adoption of new procedures and policies that involve a steep learning curve. Simply put, the work of a receptionist has increased in quantity and the requirements for higher quality in all procedures are expected to avoid losses or even penalties for medical practices.
The education and training of front office executives has not been as extensive and is not meant for handling complex tasks such as contacting the insurance companies for a pre-authorization procedure or entering charges on the front desk which can lead to errors. With a complete overhaul in the health industry, it has perhaps become important that vital tasks involving revenue should be handled by a specialist who can understand the nuances in the administrative process he or she specializes in.
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