Inefficiencies in medical practice not only waste time and effort, but also contribute to errors, reduce productivity, affect practice revenue, and frustrate patients, staff, and providers. Despite the potential for serious consequences, many practices fail to address these inefficiencies. Perhaps practice owners don’t have skilled manpower to handle such inefficiencies or they can’t take sufficient time out from patient care. Or perhaps they just don’t know where to begin. In this blog, we focussed on the front desk functions of your practice and provided tips on removing front desk inefficiencies in medical practice.
Removing Front Desk Inefficiencies in a Medical Practice
Your front desk is a hub of activities: phones are ringing, faxes are coming in and going out, patients are checking in, patients scheduling tests or appointments, patients checking out, new patients turning in paperwork, and so on. Let’s start with a phone system.
The Phone System
Your phone system is often your patients’ entry point into your practice. Being inefficient in this area can lead to patient irritation and distress, which in turn can lead to a loss of productivity as staff members try to deal with the repercussions. Your incoming calls are the first area to introduce for inefficiencies. Nowadays, there are apps and billing software which help patients to schedule their appointments without any hassle. But still, there are many patients who like to get an appointment by calling the provider’s office. Evaluate your phone system with these questions:
- How many incoming phone lines does your office have? This number should exclude any back-office lines that might be used by accounts receivable and denial analysts.
- How many phone lines are each person potentially responsible to answer at any given time?
If your answer is more than two phone lines per person, you have a potential problem. Ideally, no staff member should have more than one person on hold at any given time. Any more than that, and you will lose callers and, eventually, patients. Although multiple phone lines are desirable in order to keep patients from getting a busy signal, be sure that every line is covered by your staff. Think of the last time you called a business and you were placed on hold. Now recall the increasing irritation growing by the minute, now imagine doing that when you are sick.
Keep automated menu choices short and limit the number of choices. Always give callers an option that will put them in touch with a real person, and don’t make it unreasonably difficult for them to access it. Periodically call your office yourself to see what your phone system sounds like to patients. Also, be sure staff members change their voice mail greeting when they are out of the office for an extended absence and have a system for changing greetings or checking messages when someone is out sick.
Calling patients to confirm their appointments is a proven strategy for reducing no-shows and their associated costs. For example, if your front office staff is making reminder calls the day before the appointment, your system is doomed to fail. Patients who work outside the home will probably not receive your message until after work, say 6 p.m., when your office is closed. Their first chance to call you back will be the next morning, the day of their appointment. If for some reason they need to cancel their appointment, you will have very little time to fill that appointment slot and will likely lose revenue. A simple solution is to call patients two to three days before the scheduled appointment. This gives your patient an entire day to contact you if needed. It also gives your office a day to fill that open time slot. You can always use automated reminders using billing software but have a proper strategy in place.
Patient Demographics and Insurance Information
The success of revenue cycle management depends upon accurately collecting patient demographics and insurance information. Any mistake in getting correct information will lead to denied or rejected claims. Reworking such denied or rejected claims required more efforts from the front as well as back-end staff. In case of new patients visit, get patient demographics and insurance information in advance, ask for secondary insurance information also. Use the provider portal to cross-check the provided information.
Eligibility and Benefits Verification
Eligibility and benefits verification will ensure that all visits will get paid. Eligibility and benefits verification reports will ensure that patient has active coverage and scheduled services are covered in their health plan. Eligibility and benefits verification reports will also highlight the patient responsibility portion i.e., pending deductibles, co-payments. It will also highlight the need for any prior authorizations. Such a properly executed eligibility and benefits verification process will ensure quick and accurate insurance reimbursements.
Front desk activities play an important role in the smooth functioning of your practice. It provides the right information to submit and process the medical claim on time. We hope that the above-mentioned tips could help in removing front desk inefficiencies in medical practice. All these tips require skilled and well-trained manpower to handle critical front-end activities. If you are facing an issue of high employee turnover or skilled manpower crunch then think about outsourcing medical billing services. To know more about how we can help you in improving the overall medical billing process, contact us at email@example.com / 888-357-3226