November 19, 2015
Front Desk skills are no more seen as just scheduling appointments and handing out forms. The Front Desk , at most medical practices today, has a very vital and prominent role to play. With the changing health care reforms and variety of insurance plans that come with different kinds of patients, the Front Desk practitioners face more challenges than ever and consequently affects medical billing and revenue collection management processes. No longer is their work just restricted to their warmth and hospitality to patients who come in, but now they need to involve themselves with patients further by explaining the ever complex health plan terms to patients.
Before the Affordable Care Act came into being, the Front Desk collections were mostly limited to copays. The Front Desk job was a straightforward matter - Front Desk just checked the amount on the patient’s insurance card and collected it. Given that the amounts due were small, even if copay collection was not perfect, practices still made a marginal profit.
The scenario after the ACA health reform changed all the above. Now, the number and type of health plans patients can participate in has increased. Moreover, the revenue mix for practices has changed dramatically, as health plans increasingly require patients to share in the costs of their care. An ineffective collection at the time of service now puts profitability of the practice at risk.
How can Optometrists bring change and increase their revenue? It all starts at the Front Desk. Here are a few ways in which your Front Desk service can enable an increase in the revenue margins of profitability
The Front Desk now has to be more aware of the ever-changing health plan terms and explain that to patients who walk in. Moreover, they need to be more vigilant and ask the right questions to gain insight into the patient’s financial obligations
The earlier administrative tasks of just being hospitable needs to change. Front Desk has to take a more pro-active role in the verification of the insurance health plans of the patient when they walk in. Technology that integrates with the Practice Management System (PMS) and Electronic medical records (EMR), will help Front Desk better manage and explain to patients the various complexities of their health plans and what they can be insured for or not, bringing in a win-win to both parties.
Improve Recall Process:
Due to the paper work trail often patients who merely walked in for an eye exam are often forgotten for a rescheduled eye exam. The long interval between eye care exams, leads to weaker patient loyalty and thereby lost revenue. By investing in better technology and documentation, not only patients can be recalled for an update and pre-appointments can help bring in loyalty wherein patients acknowledge the care meted out and thereby leads to loyalty and increase in revenues.
Many of the simpler tasks of preparing the patient for the eye care examination process can be handled by the Front Desk who can help explain the process and direct the patients accordingly. The time of the Optometrist is thus saved and thereby an increase in the number of patients can thus be attended to by the physician in a day.
Delegating responsibility that is a combination of administrative, clinical and marketing best practices to the Front Desk, coupled with better technology to scheduling patients, verification of insurance eligibility and improving the recall process, will go a long way in your Front Desk bring in revenues and being a productive asset to your practice.