The Front Desk: Use the Patient Experience to Boost Revenue

Is your practice earning just enough to get by? If so, you won’t be ‘getting by’ for long. The continued push towards value-based care isn’t stopping, and in order to survive, you need to create long-term, sustainable growth. But taking your practice from earning just enough to more than enough requires the engagement of your entire practice—especially your front desk staffers.

Not sure how to get all of your employees up to speed on how to nurture the patient experience to increase sales? In this series of posts, we’ll show you how each of your employees can do their part to master the sales cycle and put money in your practice’s pocket. First up? The front desk.

Quick Review for Front Desk Financial Conversations

It’s no secret that increasing sales and patient collections requires warm, welcoming front desk staff. At MGMA’s 2017 Financial Management and Payer Contracting conference, patient payment experts Doral Jacobsen, MBA, FACMPE, and Carol Campbell, MHS, RHIA said that patients can smell fear. If your front desk employees are uncomfortable speaking about money—whether it’s money patients owe or whether patients are paying out-of-pocket for an elective procedure, patients will prey on a staff member’s hesitation. Follow these money tips from Jacobsen and Campbell to increase revenue from sales and collections successfully:

DON’T SAY…

DO SAY…

  • “How much can you pay?”
  • “Try to do the best you can.”
  • “Can you at least pay something?”
  • “What is the minimum can you pay?”
  • “It’s okay, we will send you a bill.”
  • “Your amount due is XX (full amount).”
  • “How would you like to pay for that today?”
  • “Our financial policy outlines…”
  • “How much are you short?”
  • “Our financial counselor can help.”

Words Aren’t Always Enough

Yes, what you say to patients matters…but how you look is equally important. According to Jacobsen and Campbell, communicating with patients is mostly in the body language. Follow their dos and don’ts when you and your staff talk to patients about their payment:

DON’T…

DO…

  • Avoid looking directly into the patient’s eyes
  • Hunch over your desk
  • Talk too quietly
  • Multitask
  • Make eye contact
  • Sit up straight with your shoulders down and back
  • Speak clearly and loudly enough so that the patient can hear you
  • Put all of your attention on the patient
  • Ask for the money and bite your tongue. Pause. Remember, asking for payment isn’t offensive. People choose to be offended.

Could You “Intake” More Revenue?

Aside from in-person or phone conversations with front desk staff, intake forms offer another opportunity for practices to “sell” their services gently to patients. Format your intake forms almost like a menu you’d find at a sushi restaurant, suggests Ed Syring III, Vice President of Miami-based healthcare marketing and consulting company Yellow Telescope. List the elective services your practice offers, such as LASIK, PRK, and cosmetic procedures, and direct patients to “check off” the procedures that interest them, he advised attendees of last year’s ASCRS·ASOA Annual Meting. Forms that help practices increase sales also often include a space for patients to respond to suggestions like “Please indicate anything else you want to ask the doctor about.”

Want more? Stay tuned for more posts in this series about maximizing the revenue-boosting potential of every position in your practice!

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