Over the past four weeks, we’ve discussed almost every area of the practice, and how each person can directly impact one of my favorite KPIs, Collections Per Hour. In this final part of the discussion, I’d like to talk about one function that is often be overlooked when we start thinking about revenue generation: the checkout.
To be most successful, the person signing your patients out as they leave the office needs to possess a unique combination of knowledge, firmness and pleasantness. When it comes to collecting the money the patient owes and confirming that information necessary to bill third parties has been entered correctly, sign-out is where the rubber meets the road.
Guidelines for a Successful Check Out
- When collecting the money the patient owes today, the sign-out person must avoid asking the patient how much they want to pay. In a pleasant tone, they should simply state what is being submitted to insurance and the amount due from the patient and ask if the patient would like to pay by cash, check or credit card.
- To support your sign-out person, have a clear office policy regarding what is owed from the patient before materials are ordered. Make sure that your policy guarantees that, at a minimum, your cost for ordering and checking in the materials as well as the cost of the materials and postage are all covered by the minimum amount you allow to patients to pay before ordering. If the patient defaults, at least you will not have lost money.
- Do not allow delivery of any materials to patients without payment in full. Consider offering Care Credit for patients who want to pick up materials and pay over time. Keeping track of promised payment plans is counterproductive to your success.
- Make sure your sign-out person is familiar with the third party plans you participate with and able to answer patients’ questions. If your third party billing is in house, consider cross-training your sign-out and billing staff. If you use a billing agency, assign your sign-out staff as the contact with the agency.
In many practices, the sign-out person is also the person pre-appointing the patient for their next visit. Once again, a pleasant demeanor and a positive attitude that assumes patient compliance is required. The sign-out position should be reserved for your most trusted and talented non-clinical staff and they should be compensated accordingly.