Would you believe that failure to collect consistently and adequately at the front desk can actually create a negative impression of your practice’s patient service? And that skipping financial conversations to keep the focus on patient can actually backfire?
Money conversations can be hard for all involved. And, when a practice staff is very focused on patient-centered service, it can seem counter-intuitive to emphasize financial details — especially when patients are ill or injured. But, ironically, not being clear about financial terms and not collecting appropriately can actually cause your patients to feel worse about your practice than a conversation about money ever could.
When you fail to collect adequately at the front desk, your patients will receive a bill — and, if you are waiting for their insurance to pay its portion first, that bill may not even be mailed until a month or more after their visit. By that time, the patient may have forgotten all about the visit — and never even considered they would owe a balance, especially if staff never mentioned that they would or provided an estimate. It’s likely they’ve already allocated their monthly budget to other things. And maybe they’re confused about the bill — and now will spend time trying to figure it out, perhaps on hold with their health plan, or feeling they have to call your biller. All of this adds up to aggravation. And if they don’t believe (or don’t want to believe) they owe the money, they can become quite angry with your practice.
Nobody likes unexpected bills. Properly estimating patient costs and alerting patients that they have financial responsibility for all or part of their service is one of the kindest things you can do for them — and critical to maintaining a positive relationship.