To manage a medical front office effectively, whether a small practice or large clinic, comprehensive, clear procedures must be developed and implemented that address necessary tasks and responsibilities. Office procedures should highlight various employees’ duties, such as describing what receptionists should do when the office opens and closes. You should understand how the medical office works to tailor procedures appropriately.
Office procedures should convey how to interact with clients. Relevant topics include standard client greetings (e.g., in person and over the phone), the management disgruntled or angry clients, client confidentiality (e.g., HIPAA regulations) as well as appointment setting and notification. Strong customer service skills are required for most medical office employees. Thus, the procedures should distinguish “good” from “inadequate” customer service. Standard procedures in the event of an emergency or natural disaster, like a fire or flood, are needed. Create a separate employee handbook to discuss policies about dress code, attendance, sexual harassment, payroll, vacation and benefits.
A successful medical office manages its patient records efficiently. Backup procedures should be mandatory for paperless offices (e.g., with patient information stored online or on a computer program). The front office manual needs to explain how to create, update and store client records. The manual also should include procedures about how to make records inactive, such as when patients move. Another important aspect involves physician calendars. For instance, by scheduling two patients each hour, a physician might have 20 to 30 minutes of free time. The procedures should explain how to schedule an appropriate number of patients on an hourly and daily basis. Procedures also might depict a standard way of assigning exam rooms.
Front medical office procedures should detail how to collect payment from patients. If a patient uses insurance, the procedures should explain what information is needed to verify the insurance and to collect a co-payment, if needed. The procedures should explain whether to obtain payment before or after the visit when a patient is paying out of pocket. Also, describe the necessary steps to get timely reimbursement of insurance claims. For instance, explain who will code or identify medical procedures for patient records as well as billing. Procedures should specify how to handle past due accounts, such as those that remain outstanding for 6 months or 1 year.