Manage the Front Office Tasks of Your Behavioral Health Practice
As a mental health professional, your primary focus is on providing specialized care to your clients. Managing the front-end operations of your practice can be challenging. Greeting clients, answering phone calls, and accepting payments were probably not included in your formal education. Establish practice policies for the management of these job functions. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Invest in Billing Tools
Find the behavioral health billing application that meets your needs. While traditional medical billing applications may be sufficient, look for a company that focuses on behavioral billing. Look for an application that allows you to update changes to local and federal regulations.
Hire the Right Team
You and your office staff are a team. Make sure you provide accurate and timely information to your staff. Insurance will demand detailed and complete billing information. Define the characteristics of your ideal office staff. Ask the following interview questions to make sure they are compatible with your company culture:
- How did you handle a stressful situation?
- What management style motivates you?
- Describe one skill you have that will help you succeeds in this position.
- How comfortable are you working with behavioral health patients?
- What is your attitude toward professional development?
The first step is establishing the client’s insurance status. They may need additional help understanding their copay as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Write and distribute payment policies to every client at least once a year. Clients should understand who is responsible for submitting superbills.
Discuss Payment Choices
Be sensitive to each individual’s ability to pay. While you do not want to work for free, if a client falls behind in payments, speak with them immediately. Financial struggles may add anxiety during their treatment. Offer to establish a payment plan or make changes to their treatment schedule.
You or your office staff should collect the copay at the beginning or end of each session. Most clinics receive payments when the client first enters the office. Your office staff will have time to process the payment and provide a receipt. Save credit card information on your system to accept payments faster. Accept as many types of credit cards as possible. Use your bank’s electronic deposit options to deposit checks at the end of every day.
Call clients with a gentle payment reminder a couple of weeks after they should have received the bill. Upon check-in, collect payment on outstanding balances before they see their care provider. Implement an online client portal that allows them to submit payments electronically.
Stay on top of insurance companies to verify they received your claims. Claims can take up to four weeks to show in the insurance company’s database. If the insurance company has not processed the paperwork after a month, verify the submittal address and resend the claim. Approval may take three weeks after the insurance company receives the paperwork. It can take over a week for a paper check to be cut and mailed. Be sure you use all online options the insurance company offers to reduce processing time.
Building a successful behavioral health practice is more than just providing excellent client care. Thriving practices have procedures for managing front desk operations.