Collect in limited bursts


Discover some ways to boost your medical practice's collections department.

Q: Our practice's collections are lagging because we have to divert more and more staff time to following up on insurance pre-authorizations. What's a good plan to implement that can help us do a better job with collections?

First, consider using part-timers to supplement your staff. Hiring additional workers for your billing department doesn't mean you should assign the new people to collections follow-up, however. Assign them more routine clerical functions to free up your experienced staff for collections calls.

Third, do collections work in limited bursts to avoid getting burned out. Follow-up phone work with late-paying patients is a difficult task. Even the most energetic account representative can be worn down after a few hours. It's best to limit individual staff members to 3 hours of collections calls a day.

Finally, consider paying a bonus for performance. A small cash bonus-say, $100 a month-for achieving a specific goal could be just what's needed to create enthusiasm for collections calls.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by Judy Bee, Practice Performance Group, La Jolla, California. She is an editorial consultant for Medical Economics. Send your practice management questions to

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