Running a private practice is certainly an exciting and rewarding endeavor! But between handling everything on the business end – like expenses and bookkeeping – and everything on the practice end – like keeping track of each patient's needs – how can you find the time to assemble, organize and communicate your practice’s specific policies? At Healthy Bytes, we've made it easy for you with this series. Here's a collection of ideas for client/patient policies:
First impressions really do matter, so it's very important to have a simple, professional, and standardized onboarding process. When you have a new patient contact you for an appointment, make sure to collect the correct information for us to be able to perform an accurate eligibility estimate. Also, be sure to know whether they want to meet in-person or are requesting a telehealth appointment.
In addition to your private practice policies, you'll need a HIPAA waiver. As you grow your practice, you'll also want to keep track of basic client demographic information and may need to include other forms for client onboarding. Do you want all clients to fill out a 24-hour recall? Would you like a medical history form completed?
We recommend putting all of this together in a simple (ideally, electronic) packet that you can ask new clients to complete and sign.
Cancellations & No-Shows
Many practices have a cancellation fee that applies to any no-show. While this policy is up to you, make sure it's clearly communicated with your patients both in person and on your website. Some things you'll want to keep in mind:
- How much notice do you require for a cancellation? 2 hours? 24 hours?
- How do you want your patient to communicate her cancellation with you? Do you use an online system for making appointments? Do you want a phone call to the office?
- How will you treat late cancellations vs. no shows? Will they carry the same fee?
- What's the time frame for making a payment on the fee?
- And, of course, how much are you going to charge patients for cancellations or no-shows?
While we can handle billing and claims for you, at some point, you may have to collect some form of payment directly from patients. To avoid surprises, discuss the results of eligibility estimates with patients before your appointments. Make sure they know that anything not covered by their plans will be out-of-pocket. Be upfront and transparent about what forms of payment your practice is able to accept, and give them an idea of your timeline and payment process.
The most important thing is that you communicate your practice's policies to every new patient, ideally prior to the first visit. Remind patients of your no-show/cancellation fees at the time they book appointments. Make sure to have a handout of relevant policies available for your patients upon their arrival at their first appointments as well. Life happens, but nobody likes to be surprised, especially when it comes to their healthcare or expenses.
A great (though informal) way to keep in touch with your patients is to maintain an online presence via social media, such as Instagram or Facebook. Social media is also a great way to let your patients know about any changes to your practice's policies. Lastly, having a section of your website dedicated to your private practice’s policies is encouraged.
Stay tuned next week for Part II!