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Patient collections ‘bonus incentive’ program increases patient payments and staff pay

An Indiana practice recently established a bonus incentive program for its support staff that has been a huge help to patient collections.

“I had managed an office prior to joining this practice where I was able to track patient collections percentages each day,” Leanne Craig, office manager at Hendricks Therapy, tells Medical Office Manager. “I had a report within our practice software that enabled me to see what percentage of outstanding patient balances were collected when the patient came in for an appointment. We had multiple locations and a prize was awarded each week to the location that collected the highest percentage of outstanding patient balances when the patient came in for an appointment. It became quite the ‘bragging tool’ for each location to claim the reward each week.”

In her current role, Craig had been trying to find a similar report within the practice’s software so she could offer a bonus to support staff whenever a preset goal was met regarding outstanding balance collections. She had not had any success in obtaining a report that she could utilize for this purpose.

Then it finally dawned on her that she could track when an employee collected on an outstanding debt by simply having the staff member notify her that they had done so.

“Our software has a tool that allows any staff member or provider to send a “ToDo” (a form of notification) to any other staff member or provider within the patient’s demographic screen,” she says.

The practice added a button in the screen that allows a staff member to notify Craig whenever they have collected from a patient on an outstanding debt by simply tapping the designated button. “From that point it is very easy for me to see who the staff member was that collected from the patient, and I can then easily look at the patient’s ledger to see how much in old debt has been collected,” she explains. Craig then adds the information to a spreadsheet that she created to record the collections.

The practice owner/physician agreed to reward every staff member with a bonus each pay period which pays the staffer 3 percent of the amount that was collected from the patient.

“The results have been remarkable,” Craig says. “We have seen a major uptick in collections for outstanding balances, and it has been well worth the added expense for the practice to pay staff for collecting old balances as the amount of time and energy to pursue those balances has gone down incrementally.”

The bonus is only awarded for pre-existing balances, not for payment collected for services rendered that day (as this should, obviously, be done without question whenever the patient is in the office for an appointment). “It has been a good reason for staff to check patient outstanding balances when they have them on the phone scheduling appointments as well as when the patient is checking out after an appointment,” Craig says.

Every other week, on payday, Craig sends a note to all staff to let them know who collected the most in outstanding balances each pay period. It always results in an increase in staff morale as the one staff member feels they have done a good job and the other members of the staff always congratulate and applaud the most highly successful staff member.

“I use that opportunity to really build on morale and to keep it front and center, on everyone’s mind, to always be looking to manage our practice collections better,” Craig says. “This type of bonus incentive program has worked as it is a win-win for all concerned: management, as well as staff.

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