This month our focus is on front desk etiquette. Is it time to re-evaluate your practice's culture? 
KPG Revenue Cycle Management Newsletter

The Front Desk Through the Eyes of your Patient
Kathy Puziak PMP CMPE

By Kathy Puziak CMPE PMP

As I walk into my doctor's office I am greeted by the ubiquitous closed sliding glass window and a clipboard reading:  Sign In . Occasionally there is a sign reminding me to sign in but there seems to be a disagreement "behind the glass window" as to use of the real estate associated with the sign. ( Sigh)
As I peer through the glass window (with a friendly smile), I can see medical staff pointedly ignoring me so I tap lightly on the glass. The window slowly slides open a few inches as if I am in the wrong place and should know better than to bother them.  But someone raises their voice (I am not hard of hearing) saying, "Sign the clipboard, we will be with you shortly".  The window then quickly slides closed.
I am a patient-patient - I dutifully sign in and take a seat. I look around the waiting room and note the usual, tired looking magazines, dust covered plastic plants and once again, sigh. Eventually I am summoned back to the window where it slides open once more. Again, without making eye contact with me, I find myself be spoken to by a hand. The hand says, "I need your insurance card, your ID, and your co-pay". I look around to make sure the hand is speaking to me and think, "Whatever happened to a simple "hello"?" I look around again wondering if I will see Allen Funt and then wonder what the people behind the glass window are so afraid of.
As a patient, I am very aware of the need for privacy. However, this scenario is all too common in today's world and seems to be an excuse to take the humanity from the initial encounter with the doctor's office.
Things become especially unprofessional (yes, I am old-fashioned enough to believe in professional behavior) when the "magic" glass window finally opens and I learn so much about the staffs' personal life that I am tempted to turn and run the other way. As a patient, I don't want (or need) to know the intimate details being exchanged about staff's personal life, office gossip, irritating patients, or unlikable coworkers, much less what's wrong with the doctors!
Let's face it, people don't chose to spend their afternoon at the doctor's office! They would rather be playing bridge. They are there because they are not well. Patients arriving at their doctor's office are frequently scared and in need of compassion and care.  For many people this is the only social interaction they'll have all day and a kind greeting and a smile goes a long way to ease their concerns. A simple acknowledgement of their existence will surely make their day and their visit a positive experience.

Just so you know, I know there are doctor's offices that do provide a great patient experience. I walk in and am greeted by name and immediately I feel better. As I wait for my appointment and watch other patients enter the office, it is obvious the culture of the office is one that values the patient as a person. Take a page from Ritz Carlton, know your clients, greet them by name and they will not only return but will spread your groups name to their friends and family. The best advertisement is word of mouth!
Great offices ease patients discomfort, ensuring them that they will be helped,  and make them feel valued.  This kind of experience benefits your practice in other, tangible ways.  When people are recognized and valued, they are more willing to pay co-pay/charges and, if surveyed, provide positive feedback.

For more front desk tips, check the Resource Library at

Part 5 Notes in Gro up Management
Account Col lection Notes

By Kathy Puziak CMPE PMP

Are you using Account Collections to manage past due patient accounts? Have you developed a robust workflow that includes all the functions and features that Account Collections offers? Are you using one of the most important features in Account Collections? What is that feature you ask? Account Collection Notes!
When working with people who have past due accounts it becomes very important to document every "touch" on the account. When the account holder calls, you will be grateful for the notes, as will your caller.
You ask, "How do I incorporate notes into my work process?" For those of you using Task Management, Account Collection Notes will be a familiar tool. However, as with any process, your organization determines the direction you follow in managing patient past due accounts, including the application of notes.
That process is then translated into Account Collection workflow and implemented when you train your patient account managers. The notes component is a pivotal element in Account Collection. Just like Task Management, Account Collection does not force users to enter additional detailed notes for future follow-up. That's where training and simple procedures come into play.
A simple Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for Account Collections:
1.     Set up your Action Codes and Next Action Codes to have meaning for your users.

For example: When a patient account manager places a call to an account holder regarding a past due account and the call goes to voice mail, what is the action and next action to be taken?

What you do
Action you take
Action Code
Next Action
Next Action Date
Note Required?
Make first call to account & no response; left message
Put action code & note
/2d (2 days)
Yes; Note that account was called & message was left. Indicate follow up in 2 days.
Make second call to account & no response. Left message
Put action code & note
Yes; Note that account was called & message was left. Indicate that account will go to final letter in 7 days. System will auto transfer to Final Letter queue in 7 days
2.     Once you have thought through the actions and next actions, turn your attention to the notes that will help people resolve questions through the life cycle of the account. If an account holder calls, will the notes help you work them to answer questions? If there are no notes, the answer is NO! If there are too many abbreviations that no one understands, the answer is NO. If the notes are too cryptic, the answer is NO. You aren't looking for a book, you are looking for the ability to resolve questions easily when anyone picks up the account.

3.      Work with your users to understand what types of actions come across their desk each day. Examples of action codes (just a few):
  • Adding additional charges to a case
  • Account is blocked from appointments
  • Payment Plan agreements, especially when there are exceptions or extensions to payment plans.
  • Secure email sent to patient
  • Patient indicates payment has been sent but it has not yet been posted in the system and you need to follow up to ensure receipt and posting
  • Patient indicates insurance on account
  • Patient requests additional information or statement; document request and response
  • Letter sent
4.     Certain note codes will be able to handle multiple situations. For example, CALL1/CALL2 can be used as an action for the following responses to a CALL:
  • Voice mail left
  • No response, no voice mail
  • The person called hangs up on account manager
  • The person on the other end says they have never heard of the account holder
  • Phone has been disconnected
  • Person on the other end says they have no plans to pay and stop calling
Your organizations policies will dictate the Next Action the user should take in each situation.
5.      Some of the scenarios are very similar and lend themselves to templates that can be copied and pasted into the Account Collection Notes - just like Task Management!
TIP: To make this easy for users, copy and paste the spreadsheet to their desktop, where they can easily key in a response. 
Example of templates could include:

Adding additional charges to the case
     Requested by (patient/policy):
     Dates added:
     Amount added:
Blocking Appointment
     Physician/ Staff Requesting:
     Reason for Block:
Payment Plan Extension
      Manager Approval:
     Months Extended:

We hope this provides your practice with some great ideas and helps users work as efficiently as possible. Please visit our website at to find more on using the many capabilities of using notes throughout Group Management. Click on Resource Library and have some fun!

Join KPG Revenue Cycle Management at Centricity Live in Boston. Our session, " Are Your Patient Balances Keeping You Up at Night?" will inform and challenge as we come together to look at what is becoming a bigger percentage of our Accounts Receivable every day.

By Ron Person, author of  Balanced Scorecards and Operational Dashboards with Microsoft Excel

KPG Revenue Cycle Management is excited to have Ron Person share his exceptional knowledge on Excel and Excel Pivot tables. We have all struggled to master this incredible tool and with his always unique tool tips, Ron takes the struggle away.  ...Kathy Puziak, President, KPG Revenue Cycle Management, Inc.
Wow! This is the longest and most value packed Excel tips newsletter I've ever produced. Over 4,000 words on 29 Pivot Table tips .
Over the last three days I've grabbed every available chunk of time (well, I did sneak to the gym and walk the dogs) to collect the Top 29 Best Pivot Table Tips and put them in one blog.

It is easy to say that Pivot Tables and Power Pivot are the two most powerful features in Excel. I don't mean time saving as with Excel VBA macros, but rather they are powerful because the decisions made from Pivot Table (and Power Pivot) results drive key business decisions.

I've built tons of Pivot Tables and skimmed through tons of top Pivot Table tips. This list contains some of the top tips. The list starts with fundamentals and works its way down to esoteric, but powerful. If you are a new to Pivot Tables, this list will get you up-to-speed by starting at #1 and working down. If you are an experienced Pivoter, then I recommend skimming through the list to see if there is something critical you need to put in your toolkit.

Read more about Ron and subscribe to his free newsletter.

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