The front lines in the battle for your A/R

Your front desk staff are the marines of your office. The doctor is the general, the office manager and billers are the lieutenant and sergeants, and you can’t run a successful campaign without them. But your front desk staff are the boots on the ground, first in, last out. Their actions represent the first impression patients get of your office, and they have the last interaction with patients before those patients leave. I know that mostly, by the time you come to this blog for help, the patient has already been seen and you need to know how to get the charge paid.

But I get your emails, I know what you really need.

In a perfect world, insurances would just pay what they were supposed to, patients would send in their checks on time, and we could all leave work at 5:00. This post will help you get a little closer to that perfect world, and it all begins with your front desk. Many offices, family practice and specialists alike, end up seeing patients with insurance that is not on file, termed, or non-contracted. This happens for a variety of reasons. New patient’s tell us they have PPOs when they really come in with HMOs. Established patients forget to tell us that they changed insurance 2 months ago. HMO patients forget that if they change their PCP, they can’t come to us anymore. Howeever, with the proper procedures, the number of patients with these issues that actually get in to see the doctor can be virtually eliminated. I recently had someone contact me to train their front desk, and this is the checklist that we put together to ensure that the doctor will be paid for every service he performs.

When a patient calls in to schedule an appointment…

  1. New patients – Many offices send patients to complete their paperwork online. If you do this in your office, you only need to get the name and phone number when the patient is on the phone.
    1. Name and phone number
    2. Insurance name and id#
    3. Date of birth
    4. Verify insurance
    5. Schedule appointment
  1. Established patients
    1. We have your phone number as (909) 555-5555, is that still correct?
    2. And we have you with BlueCross BlueShield, is that correct?
    3. Schedule appointment

The day before the appointment….

  1. New patients
    1. Call to confirm appointment
    2. If your patient filled out their paperwork online, verify eligibility
  2. Established patients
    1. If patient has not been seen within 30 days, verify insurance (eligibility, deductible, copay)
    2. Call to confirm appointment
    3. Also, please be aware you have a balance of $XX.00. See you on Friday!

When the patient checks in…

  1. We still have your address as 1122 N. Del Sol Lane, is that correct?
  2. Collect any copay/deductible. If you are collecting toward a deductible, charge $50 and tell the patients this will be applied toward their deductible. Anything over that the insurance applies will be billed to their account. Unless the patient is in for a post-op, blood draw, or follow up for an established condition. In that case, the service the doctor performs probably won’t end up with an allowed amount of more than $50.00. We want to be very careful that we don’t charge patient’s more than the insurance allowed amount when we collect toward their deductible.
  3. Copy any new insurance cards

When the patient leaves the office…

  1. Schedule any necessary follow up appointment.
  2. Collect for any additional procedures performed (cash patients)
  3. Put in for any referrals

I have included this Front desk checklist on the links and tools page for you to download. These procedures are small changes that can have a transformative effect on your office and allow your billers to concentrate on what you pay them for. Namely, fighting with the insurance companies. When your billers have to run around after the front desk and try to solve these issues after the fact, it’s too late. As always, call or email with any questions. I love hearing from you.



Filed under Accounts receivable, Administrations, Authorizations, Billing, Denials, Medical Billing, Office policy, Office Visit

4 responses to “The front lines in the battle for your A/R

  1. ruthanns2015

    Love your site! TONS of great info. This is a good article, too. My comment is about the importance of the front office personnel. I’m almost ready to retire (although who knows if that will ever really happen!), & over the years, it has really astounded me that many doctors downplay how important this position actually is. You would think that professionals who are smart enough to be doctors would also be smart enough to pay a good enough salary to hire people who are really knowledgeable about insurance! At any rate, it is obvious that you are experts, and I, for one, am extremely grateful that you are kindly sharing your wealth of knowledge.
    Thank you, and I am looking forward to your future emails & blogs.

    • Thank you so much, Ruthann! Basically, what I try and do is put up a post for anything that I find myself Googling, researching, teaching, or training. I figure, if I need it, then someone else does too. So, if there is any particular topic that you’ve been looking into, please email me! I’ll try and put up a post about it.

      • ruthanns2015

        Thank you so much, and I believe you are right about others needing the info you are looking for, too. I’ve been billing for 40 years or so, and have been with the same group of urologists for the past 25 years. Recently, I chose to go part-time with them & was recruited by a medical billing company for a new client of theirs who is a PCP (basically because they didn’t have anyone on their staff who knew his software & it’s the one I’ve been using for 15 yrs, although I don’t know how they knew about me). So I’m working part-time there also. It is quite a difference to bill for a PCP when I am used to billing for specialists. I’ve figured out a lot on my own, & of course the billing company has resources, but I still like to get as much information as I can. Anyway, I’m certain I’ll be sending you some questions, and I really appreciate your willingness to answer them ! Thanks again.

  2. Pingback: Every practice does it… | New Generation Billing

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