Physicians frequently lose revenue or create legal issues as a result of billing policies and collection attempts. In order to ensure that patients are better served and that the practice does not lose revenues, it is important to inform patients of the practice’s billing policy as early as possible. Staff should explain the practice’s billing policy over the phone when patients make their initial appointments. The practice should also provide a clear, friendly explanation of the practice’s billing policy in the office for new patients. Keep in mind that copayments, being an extremely common form of patient obligation, frequently create problems. As such, it may be advisable for staff to inform patients that failure to make a copayment is a violation of their contract with a health insurer, if necessary.
Physicians should also consider the roles of staff in explaining and enforcing billing policy. Clear policies and best practices should be set in place for office staff who handle payments, and privacy measures should be carefully planned out. Billing information may be a source of HIPAA violations if privacy becomes an issue, making it an especially important consideration. Physicians also have an important role in billing policy issues, since the degree of trust they share with patients can help make conversations about billing more effective. In short, physicians should evaluate how to discuss their practice’s billing policy over the phone or in writing at the office. Remember that this is an ideal time to ensure that your billing policy is well-drafted and in compliance with state and federal laws.
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