Creating a new policy by merging and updating two offices. Financial and collection policies.
Imagine you are an office manager. You have been tasked with creating a new policy by merging and updating two office financial and collection policies.
Use Patient Fanancial Policy and Payment Plan policy
Merge policies into a single new policy. Use the blank policy form to create your new financial policy.
At the bottom of your new policy, include a summary indicating what updates you made to the newly merged policy and indicate why you believe it’s an improvement from the previous two separate versions.
Example: I could potentially merge Policy 6.7, Internal Controls and Policy 13.22, Small Balances, to create a new policy for internal controls on balances less than $100. I would take the best parts of 6.7 and 13.22 and update where I felt necessary. Then at the bottom of the new policy, I would include a summary why I selected these 2 policies and what I updated about them to create the new policy.
A payment policy lets your patients know what you expect of them and what they can expect of you. A well-crafted policy will prevent patients from being surprised about their financial obligation when they receive your services. It will also give your practice some legal protection should a patient fail to pay what you are entitled to collect.
A payment policy similar to the one we use in our practice appears on page 18. You should tailor your policy to your practice, making sure to address the following elements:
If your practice charges patients for missing appointments, don’t forget to include that information in your payment policy. (Putting it on your appointment cards isn’t a bad idea either.) In my opinion, patients should only be charged for missed appointments if they know about the potential for it in advance.
You can also use your payment policy (or a separate policy) to explain discounts for self-pay patients, if you offer any. Our practice offers a discount equal to what Medicare allows if self-pay patients pay at the time of service. If they don’t pay then, they don’t receive the discount. In our opinion, $42.50 in the bank is worth much more than $50 sitting in accounts receivable for 90 days. You’d be amazed at how grateful patients are for the discount and how much it can help your practice’s cash flow.
Once you’ve written your payment policy, have each patient read, sign and date it. Then add it to the patient’s chart. If a patient says, “I didn’t know I had to pay my co-pay, or deductible” or whatever, simply refer to his or her chart. There is something about patients seeing their own signature on a document that seems to make them more willing to comply.