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6 Tips to Improve Your Practice’s Revenue Stream

May 11, 2015

Improving your revenue stream requires constant focus, and with factors like declining reimbursement and increasing overhead, it is more important than ever to assess your medical or dental practice and implement changes for improvement. The following strategies can help your practice collect what is due and streamline processes for a more successful operation.
1. Patient Financial Policies. If you don’t already have a patient financial policy in place, now is the time to create one. A basic policy should set expectations for patients about their financial obligations to the organization. Expectations should be communicated clearly to a patient before services are provided and every patient should sign the financial policy and be given a copy for their records. Additional information to include in the policy:
  • Copays are due at time of service.
  • Staff will ask for any outstanding balances at the time of service.
  • Patients unable to make copayments at the time of their visit will be rescheduled.
  • Any extra costs incurred while attempting to collect balances will be added to the amount owed to the practice.
2. Training Front-Desk Staff. The easiest and least expensive way to collect copayments is when the patient is in your office. Give your staff a script to follow when asking for these payments. The script should be posed in a way that doesn’t allow the patient an opportunity to say “no”. For example, “will the balance due be cash, check or credit card?”
Your staff should also be informed about common types of insurance in the area and be well-versed on insurance regulations. Often front-desk staff are not trained to understand insurance cards that can lead to mistakes when entering information into the practice management system. These mistakes directly impact your revenue as the insurance department now has to spend valuable time correcting errors. A well trained front-desk staff is an important piece of a profitable practice.
3. Billing Statements. If a payment is not received at the time of service and the bill is mailed, it is important to clearly define what a delinquent account is and when you will be sending the outstanding balances to collections. Practices should send only two bills: send the first as soon as possible after the patient’s visit and, send the second one month later.  Consider hand-writing the address on the envelope and including a hand-written note with the bill. The goal is to encourage the patient to open their statement rather than ignore it or throw it away.
4. Tracking Accounts Receivable. Tracking accounts past-due on a daily basis will help improve collections. Monitor expected amounts due from each patient including copays, deductibles and past due balances. At the end of the day, create a report identifying which payments were received and those that were not. Be sure to include reasons for not collecting the balances, this information is useful for training staff and tracking patient activity.
5. Utilizing Technology. A common area that practices overlook when attempting to improve their revenue stream is how they use their existing technology. Look for ways your practice management system or EHR can reduce redundancies or eliminate manual tasks. Simple automated functions performed by these systems can lead to hours of saved time in the short-term, and in the long-term, these efficiencies can lead to a restructured staffing model and increased profitability.
Not sure where to start? Reach out to your vender and ask them to provide an evaluation of your operations. This will help you uncover features or functions you may be underutilizing and understand how implementing them can benefit your practice.
6. Improving Efficiencies. You can improve your revenue stream by improving your operational processes. One area to assess is operational processes. High performing practices are well structured with refined patient flow processes.  This allows you to perform more efficiently. Staff are trained and expected to adhere to well-defined practice regimens.
Another area to assess is scheduling. Types of scheduling inefficiencies include:
  • Late physician arrivals.
  • Over-abundance of same-day appointments.
  • Excessive appointment durations.
  • Unmanaged no-show frequencies.
  • Inflexible schedules for seasonal volume variations.
  • Excessive staffing.
  • Overly customized physician schedules.
The harm to the practice’s revenue is directly proportional to the number of scheduling inefficiencies. Financially successful practices are committed to maintaining efficient scheduling processes and understand the connection to their bottom line. Management and physicians should work together to refine each step in the scheduling process to maximize physician production and create the best possible patient experience.
It is important for practices to create an environment of understanding that everyone in the organization is responsible for revenue. Ensure your staff is aware of the significance of promptly and correctly collecting payments, this includes educating your patients about their financial obligations to the organization. Practices should evaluate their operations and look for any inefficiencies or redundancies that can be eliminated.  Improving your revenue stream requires constant focus, but if you stay diligent, you will see gains.