Front Office Management
For most medical office front employees, the work is rewarding and stimulating, and the professional environment is fast-paced. However, there is no doubt that this role comes with many challenges. As a manager of a medical practice, you should understand these challenges and issues, such as handling filing. Did you know that without proper processes in place to collect payments for services during patient visits, many physician practices and hospitals may find it hard to collect from patients in full or even at all?
You should know that the front desk is often the first point of contact for most patients entering your medical office, whether they arrive in a rush or trickle in. Usually, the person responsible for answering the telephone also has to check in all patients, handle all the paperwork, and needs to make sure that the front office runs effectively and smoothly while maintaining a good patient satisfaction rate.
As your patients have packed schedules, you should ensure that check-ins at your medical facility go as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. You also have to make sure that tasks like insurance verification and charge capture are performed well, which can be challenging. However, keep in mind that no physician or practice owner is alone in this struggle.
While everyone on your medical team has to do their best to create an exceptional and unmatched customer experience, a bulk of that responsibility often falls on the front office employees. This is because your front office is where all the patients will get their first impression.
What is Front Office Department?
The front office is an important department of a hospital or other healthcare facility, which directly interacts with all the patients when they first arrive. Keep in mind that the front desk staff is very visible to the patients and their family members. This department helps keep information and relevant records, such as insurance records, of all your patients and plays a crucial role in forming a good first impression of the services you provide.
Essential Tasks and Duties Performed By Front Desk
Some of the major tasks of the front office staff include collecting patient information, patient scheduling, and checking insurance eligibility and authorization. Front desk employees also collect payments, like co-pays, upfront.
Collecting Patient Information
You should know that your patients’ statistical information might change between visits. Your front office staff verifies your patients’ current address, telephone number, and other information, such as regular insurance verification. Your front desk employee will also need to locate, review and update computer and paper files.
Your front office employees should schedule patients in a way that promotes enough provider time for each visit, with minimal waiting times. Did you know that long waiting times can jeopardize your practice as patients seek medical care elsewhere?
Insurance Verification and Pre-authorization
Since they are the ‘face’ of your medical practice, your front desk staff will greet patients and verify insurance information on each visit. Keep in mind that having some “face time” with patients allows patients to express any concerns and receive explanations or recommendations from the doctor.
Your front office staff should ask all patients the following questions:
- Is insurance registration info accurate and updated?
- Is the patient covered on the insurance plan?
- Is there any maximum number of permissible visits?
- What’s the patient’s liability for the total medical costs?
Making Follow-Up Appointments
Note that another essential front desk duty is to make follow-up appointments. This is because many patients need continuing care, which requires frequent appointments with their doctor or physician.
So, the medical office assistants at most practices review the schedule and set an appointment date for follow-up appointments.
Upfront Collections from Patients
Another benefit of spending more “face time” with your patients is that your front desk employees have a better chance of collecting monies owed upfront, also called “point of service” collections. Ideally, your front desk staff should not limit collecting money to just co-pays for a particular visit but also any other amounts already owed.
Front Office Management – Best Practices and Strategies for your Employees
Keep the Reception Area Organized
This is a no-brainer. Your front office staff should not clutter up the reception or front desk with a pile of unnecessary papers. They should not, for example, let magazines or newspapers in your reception area lay across your coffee tables.
Keep in mind that a clean and organized front desk or reception area will go a long way toward making your patients feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Optimize Insurance and Patient Information Capture
It is no secret that an efficient process involves the collection of all the essential information, such as insurance information, at the time the appointment call is made. Note that details, including the name of the insurance company, patient demographics, and insurance ID, should be collected by your front office workers.
By updating demographic information on an annual basis and copying insurance cards every time a patient is seen, your front office employees can make the task of insurance eligibility verification simpler and more efficient. This can make front office management more effective.
Preregister New Patients
You may know that preregistration is one of the best ways to help your new patients get to their appointments faster.
Rather than asking your patients to come in 30 minutes early in order to fill out an avalanche of paperwork, you should try to implement robust processes that capture that information in advance and improve front office management. Your employees can do this online or over the phone.
Whether your medical office has two or ten employees, front office responsibilities may go unchecked because several things come up. If you would like to stay on top of all front office employee duties, it is best to develop a comprehensive checklist for each employee detailing what they do every day.
After that, compare these checklists and decide if it is possible to better delegate duties to other people and ensure a balanced workload. This is important as it will increase productivity and revenue as fewer tasks will be left unchecked.
Verify Patient Demographics
Did you know that demographic errors and mistakes are a top reason many insurance claims are rejected? And this adds to patient dissatisfaction. This is why you should have your front desk employees verify demographic information at check-in for each visit.
Your front desk staff should always scan new insurance cards and update the billing system with the correct and updated insurance information.
Make it Simple for Patients to Pay
Did you know that many patients do not pay medical bills because of a lack of payment options and poor timing of bills? To make things simple for patients, you should offer them various payment options, such as online bill pay.
You can also accept credit and debit cards, bill payments over the telephone, and online through a secure portal. You should also help your front office staff stay informed so that they become a reliable and trusted resource for all your patients.
Benefits of Outsourcing Front Office
According to a 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians Practice Patterns and Perspectives, 41 percent of doctors felt negative or were not satisfied with their front office management. This statistic certainly shows that there’s considerable room for improvement.
A reliable and experienced medical billing company, such as UControlBilling, can provide you with innovative front office management solutions to improve and streamline your front office’s effectiveness and efficiency while minimizing the burden on your resources.
You will get several advantages and benefits from outsourcing your front office management to a reliable and professional firm. Some benefits of outsourcing front office management are as follows:
Reduced Administrative Duties
Note that having in-house front office management and billing teams can cost you money and time. And often, for many healthcare providers in the US, the in-house billing team is also their front desk staff.
Keep in mind that when your front desk employees are bogged down with preparing insurance claims and keying in lots of information, then that’s time taken away from your patients. And this can restrict your patient flow, which means considerably less practice revenue.
If you work with a third-party provider, you can reduce administrative costs by having a reliable outsourced company solve your insurance conflicts and other issues.
Increase Patient Satisfaction
By reducing the burden you place on your office staff, you can easily increase efficiency, productivity, and employee morale. All your patients will have a line of communication with professional customer service professionals who are both patient and kind when answering questions and resolving issues.
As you can see, your front office and reception area are certainly prime areas for continuous improvement. And you can always do better at offering an excellent first impression and improved customer experience for all your patients. You can use the above best practices and strategies for your front office employees.
Outsourcing front-office services for your medical facility or hospital will help you overcome administrative and operational challenges. This will streamline your front-office support operations and maintain consistent and timely cash flow to your medical practice.