As a professional medical billing company, Outsource Receivables gets paid a percentage of receipts and is held to performance guarantees. This means that we are integrally tied to the performance of our clients and when we hear about opportunities to make the business of indpendent medical practices more profitable, we listen. Strong marketing goals and strategies are a must! Unfortunately, just filling a clinic waiting area does not always translate into money in the bank. Rather, poor preparedness and planning on the front can result in lots of unpaid claims and worse yet, misunderstandings and patients unhappy with your clinic.
A prime example is the annual wellness visit, a common appointment for independent medical practices. With kids going back to school it can be convenient to schedule the whole family for their annual wellness check-up. These seemingly simple check-ups can turn into multiple services if a patient has ‘saved up’ their health concerns. Visits can result in additional services such as vaccines or lab testing, or additional procedures that are not part of the annual wellness check-up. One risk is being unprepared or disorganized and not charging for these additional billable services. The other risk is patients not understanding why they are being charged a co-pay or deductible when it was supposed to be a “free” annual wellness check-up. This can turn into a customer service issue trying to explain why the patient is receiving a bill on the back-end rather than communicating upfront to set clear expectations.
The first step is to plan out a schedule and strategy for annual wellness check-ups at independent medical practices. Setting up an internal schedule for the best times of the day, such as a certain day of the week when staff are available or in the morning when patients can fast for labs. Secondly, utilize a mailing or postcard to notify patients. This can be coordinated with birthdays, back to school or for patients who have not had an annual wellness check-up in the last 11 months. Next, when scheduling the calls make sure that appointment schedulers inform patients that additional services beyond the annual wellness check-up may be provided for which the patient will receive a bill. Provide your staff with language to educate patients on the purpose of the visit and potential outcomes. And of course, always verify the insurance coverage. Also recommended is running a pre-visit history or sending a form to the patient for a health history. This will help identify screening needs or tests that can be completed in advance so the physician can provide their consultation based on the results. Each of these steps makes the visit more patient friendly and efficient for the clinic. Ultimately this can translate to increased cash flow for services to drive your practice forward.
Need help educating parents on preparing for a wellness visit before sending the kids back-to-school? Well, KidsHealth.org provides a helpful newborn-18 “what to expect” check-up list for parents. It’s a great resource for helping parents come prepared for the annual wellness visit, and it even has and audio recording.