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Tracking Practice Front-end Cash Flow

Constant Monitoring leads to a smoother cash flow

If you are like most administrators, you view your income as a ‘lump’ of money that shows up on your monthly reports. However, unlike other industries where there is a single payment for a service, healthcare income is broken into categories, such as co-pays and coinsurance, that are paid at different times.

Due to shifting reimbursement from payers to patients, it is more important than ever to collect every penny owed. According to Black BookTM, patients have experienced a nearly 30% increase in out-of-pocket and deductible costs. The same survey found that small medical practices of five providers or less count slow deductible patient payments as their primary collection challenge. Both patients and providers are feeling the strain of high healthcare costs.

The front desk is a critical part of the revenue process because the older a balance is, the harder it is to collect. It is essential that all staff, especially at the front-desk, understand the importance of collecting patient balances at the time-of-service.

So, if you begin to think of each ‘type’ of front-end reimbursement as a category (co-pays, past-due balances and estimates/pre-payments), and then break-down the collection performance for each, you can identify opportunities to increase revenue.

Front desk collections monitoring

Analysis of collections

How do you track what is owed compared to what is collected? — Sometimes you need to be creative, but if there’s a will, there’s a way. Some practice management/EHR software systems will display co-pays and past-due balances on the patient schedule. Pre-pay and estimate amounts can usually be entered in note format on the patient account (ideally the front desk would be trained to look for notes). In some cases, office administrators create spreadsheets that are checked at the end of each day.

No matter how you decide to track payments, offices that make the effort to improve front-desk collections are in the best financial position to deal with the reimbursement shift and protect their cash flow.