It was the end of a chaotic day at a five-physician pediatric practice in a busy suburb outside of Chicago. Patient cancellations and no-shows plus an emergency procedure added to the already full workloads of the front office and billing support teams. By the clinic’s 5 p.m. closing time, it felt like there was only time to turn off the lights and lock the doors.
Medical support professionals know that just greeting, registering and scheduling patients and keeping on top of accounts receivables and claim issues fills many workdays to the end of scheduled office hours. But the team at this suburban clinic found that skipping its closing procedures usually meant the next day was as or more chaotic.
Fortunately, not all days are like that. And through following best practices, Clinic-ology has found that committing to a daily closing checklist keeps those chaotic days to a minimum. After all, the more efficiently a medical practice operates on a day-to-day basis, the greater number of patients — and payment claims — flow through the practice.
And since efficient workflows lead to a greater revenue flow (and a happier medical staff), the daily close checklist is a crucial operations piece for medical practices large and small. Closing (and opening) checklists can also help control the administrative burden: A 2019 survey by CompHealth and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) found that 71% of physicians cited clerical burdens as one of the top causes of unhappiness on the job.
What’s in the Daily Close Checklist?
The daily close checklist comprises administrative tasks across scheduling, records, accounting reconciliations and stocking the fax machine with paper. Of course, just as medical practices vary in specialty and size, so will their checklists. But the basic steps, especially regarding patients, billing and record updates, remain the same.
Closing tasks can begin an hour before the clinic shuts down for the day. And most medical office professionals agree that spending ten minutes after closing time to complete these tasks saves time and stress tomorrow.
Clinic-ology follows best practices in breaking down the daily close as follows. Some steps are simple. Others, like reconciling the day’s payments and reviewing superbills, involve procedures and best practices that Clinic-ology will delve into in future articles.
Check the next day’s patient schedule for appointments that haven’t been confirmed.
Check the next day’s patients schedule for unverified payment and/or health insurance benefits.
Reconcile the patient and physician schedules to ensure there are no overlaps.
Call patients on waiting lists to fill any open appointments.
Review the next-day patient schedule to ensure all necessary information is ready for the visit.
Review next-day patient records to ensure all necessary billing information is on file.
Reconcile the day’s payments, flagging out-of-the-ordinary transactions.
Prepare clinic bills for payment and checks for deposit.
Update accounts receivable (A/R) collections.
Review superbills from all healthcare providers and send to billing.
Review unreconciled visits — scheduled visits with no associated charges — for claims processing:
Prioritize claim submissions for the next day.
General office management
Listen to any remaining voicemails.
Restock examination rooms.
Stock the fax machine with paper.
Log off and secure electronic records management system.
Turn off all office equipment, including all computers. But leave the fax machine on.
Adjust timers for or turn on outside security lighting.
Change the answering machine to its night message or let the answering service know the office is closed for the day.
Turn off office lights.
Lock the door and, if required, set an alarm.
While many closing tasks use common sense, others involve specific training in the healthcare field. Clinic-ology offers on-line and onsite training, consultations and workshops to help your office team implement better workflows and best practices in all areas of your practice.
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