Tips for Improving Your Practice's Charge Capture

Every practice has those days when your team is so busy trying to keep one of your patients alive that they innocently miss charge capture on an invoice. According to DVM 360, practices may lose out on almost $64,000 in missed charges per DVM per year. So, the question becomes: How can you put safeguards in place to save you from charge capture issues? The answer is to reduce the possibility of human error. Here are some tips to help guide you.

1. Integrate Your PIMS With Your Payment Processor

Think about this all-too-common error: A staff member is checking out a client and instead of inputting the invoice total of $182.17, they accidentally type $117.82 into the credit card terminal. With that split-second mistake, your practice has lost over $60 — not to mention the time and effort your team will lose when your end-of-day reports don't match your terminal reports and they have to figure out what happened and then tell the client that you have to charge them more. What a headache!

One simple thing you can do to drastically reduce this potential for human error and accurately capture revenue is to integrate your payment processing system with your PIMS. That way, your software automatically sends the invoice amount to the credit card terminal, so there's no more trying to remember the invoice total and then manually putting it in the machine.

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2. Process Payments With Technicians

One of the biggest challenges for a receptionist when checking out a client is that they may not know everything that happened. Even if they read through the record quickly, check the travel sheet for circled charges, ensure the reminders are current, and talk through the invoice with the client, services are often still missed.

To reduce the number of missed services due to a receptionist's uncertainty, it's a good idea to have the technicians process client payments. After all, no one knows better than the technicians what services were performed during a patient's visit. They're present during check-in and the visit or stay itself and take part in financial conversations with the client.

There are tons of excuses for avoiding this: "They don't have time," "My team would hate me if I asked them to do that," "We are way too busy." Although these excuses come from a place of good intention, you need to find the time for your team to make it happen. With the right training and support, having your technicians process service payments will significantly decrease your missed charges, shave minutes off of every transaction, and lead to happier, more relaxed clients.

A word of advice: If you want to implement this change, make sure you have enough workstations and payment processing terminals to make this easy on your team. You do not want your technician to have to run from your exam room up front to an office in the back of the building. Consider ease of use and speed when setting up this process.

3. Use Workflow Software

As every practice manager knows, innocent change orders from the veterinarian, when not documented appropriately, can wreak havoc at the end of your shift. Before you know it, it's 7 p.m. and you're still sorting through treatment sheets to determine which charges were entered and which weren't and hoping that every completed service was notated on the treatment sheet.

Software that integrates into your workflow can end this terrible end-of-the-day slog by helping with charge capture, organizing your day in the surgical suite, and easing patient discharge. Workflow software allows you to enter orders for a patient, just like you would on a treatment sheet. And as you initial orders in workflow software, the charges are also entered. It makes the payment process easier for your team and easier for you.

4. Track Your Progress

To get started, or if you're questioning whether you even have a problem with missed charges at all, locate 20 charts — 10 inpatient records (hospitalization or surgical cases) and 10 outpatient records (wellness and non-wellness appointments). Take the time to pour through those records: Look at all charges, read through the medical notes, and ensure that everything was charged correctly. Keep track of your results, and after you put a new system in place, run this challenge again to get you new system's return on investment.

Veterinary technology improves workflow and helps you capture missed charges by reducing human error, ultimately increasing your revenue. Be diligent with these systems, and you'll be on your way to becoming a more successful practice.

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Amy Williams
MBA, CVPM

Amy has been in the veterinary field since 1999. She has worked in both small and large emergency and wellness hospitals in a variety of positions, including: Kennel Technician, Veterinary Technician, Customer Service Representative, Inventory Manager, Practice Manager, Practice Administrator, and currently as a District Manager for Lakefield Veterinary Group. She served on the Board of Directors for the Houston Veterinary Practice Managers Association and the Montgomery County Veterinary Medical Association. In addition, she serves as a consultant and speaker for many associations and companies, such as the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association. 

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