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How to get paid for filling out patient forms

To charge or not to charge?

Medical offices don’t value their time as much as they ought, according to the office manager for a family practice in Pennsylvania. And one area that’s woefully undervalued is the time spent filling out patient forms for things such as disability verification and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). That’s time consuming for both doctors and staff, and often the form is independent of a visit or any reimbursable service.

Her office has been charging for form completions for more than a decade, and the procedure is simple. The patient fills out a request sheet that asks for the type of information needed and also gives the charge amount. That sheet is essential because many forms are not self explanatory. For example, a patient applying for FMLA leave may have several medical issues, and the office has to know which one applies.

The request sheet, which gets attached to the form, asks for:

  • Patient’s name, phone number, and date of birth
  • Type of form to be filled out
  • Treating doctor
  • Diagnosis (with a note that the form will show the symptoms and diagnoses the patient was treated for)
  • Initial date of treatment
  • Date the disability began
  • Date the patient returned to work
  • Date the office received the form
  • Date the form must be completed
  • Fee amount (with a note that it’s the patient’s responsibility)

At the bottom are spaces that indicate if the patient will pick up the form or, if not, where it should be faxed or mailed. For mailing, the patient must provide a self-addressed stamped envelope. The fee is $5 for single-page forms and $10 for anything longer, though the office waives the fee if a patient is having financial difficulty. Staff ask for payment when they give a patient the request sheet.

The request sheet and form first go to the physician, who authorizes the request. Then the documents are forwarded to either the office manager or a nurse to be filled out. After that, they go back to the doctor for signature. Form requests are frequent, the manager says. The office has two physicians, and often there are as many as 10 a week.

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