The Financial Report of Findings

Posted on January 7, 2021 by Holly Jensen

This original article was featured in the February 2021 issue of The Chiropractic Assistant Magazine

A successful report of findings takes teamwork

After the initial exam, the patient returns to the office for their report of findings. At this appointment, the doctor reviews the findings and the treatment plan with the patient. When the patient has said yes to care, the baton is then handed off to the CA to review the financials. Some of us are really well versed when talking about money with our patients, while some of us feel uncomfortable and do our best to avoid the subject. When a patient’s financial obligations to your office are not handled properly it could lead to patient dropout, disputes with patients, complaints to state boards, and malpractice claims.

Learn: 4 Steps to Stop Patient Drop Out

In this article, I’d like to focus on how to properly communicate with your patients during the financial report of findings. Not only will the tips I give you help you set the tone upfront with the patient, but it will also ultimately result in creating loyal patients. 

The treatment plan and financial agreement should be prepared and outlined on a compliant document, printed, and ready to present to the patient before they come in for the report of findings.

Now before I get into how to talk about money, I must start off by stating that it’s imperative that the doctor has done his/her job with the report of findings by outlining their recommendations for care and getting the patient to agree to the treatment plan.  Failing to do this will make it nearly impossible for you to successfully enroll the patient. 

Once the patient agrees to the treatment plan, the doctor must get permission from the patient to discuss money so you avoid creating the “here comes the sales pitch” feeling. This can be easily handled by the doctor simply asking the patient, “Moriah, all we have left to do is to go over the cost of care. We can go over that with you today or on your next visit, which do you prefer?” Most of the time the patient will say, “Let’s just go over it today.” I can’t stress the importance of this step enough.

Once you have the patient’s permission to talk about money, the doctor should warm up the patient and make the introduction for the CA coming into the room to review the cost of care. The doctor should say, “Moriah, I’m going to have Amber come in and review our program with you.  I want to let you know, you don’t have to do the payment plan that Amber reviews with you as we have other options, but I highly recommend that you use it, as it covers everything I recommended and will save you the most money.”

Now that the patient has agreed to care, has given permission to talk about money, and has been warmed up to the CA coming in to go over finances, we can proceed to the CA reviewing the finances.

You should have a private area to discuss financial plans with the patient to ensure their privacy and keep them comfortable.  Likely they’re already in a private room for the clinical report of findings.  Do not discuss this at the front desk. In my experience, it’s best to use a ‘matter of fact’ tone when outlining the cost of care. You also want to keep it simple. The more details and numbers you start spouting off at the beginning of the conversation the more you will leave the patient feeling overwhelmed.

With your compliant financial plan in hand, you’re going to stick to reviewing the total cost of care, point out any savings the patient will get by enrolling into the care plan, and review the payment options.

Report Of Findings

Here’s an example of how this would go, “Moriah, I’m so glad the doctor found he could help you! Based on the doctor’s recommendations, we’ve outlined the following all-inclusive program of care. If you were to pay per visit, the total cost of care comes to $X.  However, by enrolling into this program it covers everything and saves you the most money.”  This is a good spot to pause and just get confirmation from the patient with a head nod.

Continue with, “Moriah, we can take that total you see here and you have three choices on how to pay. Our first option is the monthly payments.  Our second option, which most of our patients choose, is a down payment followed by smaller monthly payments.  And finally, if you prefer, our third option is to pay in full.  Moriah, before I go any further through the plan, which of these options do you feel works best for you?”

By giving your patient a choice they don’t feel pressured.  They really appreciate the options and letting them choose.  You may wonder why I said, “which most of our patients choose” for the second option”  It’s simply because it’s the best option for committing them to care as well as making it easy to transition them to their next program.  I’ll explain more in future articles.

Once the patient has chosen the payment option that works best for them, they’re pretty much committing themselves to the program. Before reviewing the details of how the program works, I recommend handling the most common objections the patient may have. Typically people want to know what happens if they miss an appointment and what happens if they need to stop care early. 

That part of the conversation may go something like this, “Moriah, I’m glad to hear you’ll be choosing option two. Before I review the details of the program let me answer the two most common questions we get from our patients. One is, what happens if you go on vacation and miss appointments. Rest assured you’re not going to lose that time. We will extend the program to allow you to make up those missed visits.

The second question is, What if you need to stop the program early. Moriah, you can stop the program at any time. You’re not locked into this. Just simply let us know and we will prorate the program for the care you’ve used. If you’ve paid us more than what you’ve used, we will happily issue a refund. If you’ve paid less, you would simply pay the balance of the care you used, not the entire program.” After you’ve addressed those two most common objections, you can move forward outlining the rest of the plan details. 

The last thing you’ll do is review the payment policy. Let the patient know that because they’re choosing a recurring payment option, that you require them to leave their billing information on file and their payment will be automatically deducted. (Be sure that you’re using a PCI DSS compliant program for storing billing information!) Answer any final questions the patient may have, gather their billing details, and enroll them into the program. Keep a signed copy of the financial plan on file and give the patient a copy for their records. 

Now that money is handled, you can go right into scheduling future appointments.  The most exciting part….there is no need for any new financial conversations until the patient is ready to transition onto wellness!

We can now cross each item off the list below when it comes to doing a proper financial report of findings:

  • After the treatment plan is agreed upon, the doctor gets permission to talk about finances.
  • In a private room, review the compliant financial plan, pointing out the savings of being on a plan versus paying per visit.
  • Give affordable payment options.
  • Review how the program works, keeping it simple, and address common questions.
  • Review the payment policy.
  • Enroll the patient in care.

Imagine having a practice full of patients on some sort of monthly payment. Imagine that you’re not having to chase after money, you’re not having to take as many payments over the counter, and patients are following through because all of their care and financial responsibilities are clearly outlined. Imagine the feeling of experiencing more joy in the work that you do because you have more time to connect with the patients. These are all the benefits of a successful report of findings.

A successful report of findings takes team effort. I highly recommend you train as a team on these steps. It’s important that all staff know what the doctor is saying in the report of findings and key conversations should be role-played with each other. It may feel awkward, but the more you do this, the more confidence you will have. Be open-minded and don’t be afraid to accept and give constructive feedback during this training process. 

You should find that when you follow the steps that I’ve outlined in this article you will get more patients saying “yes” to care and ultimately increasing patient loyalty.

Check out our other articles!

About the Author

Holly Jensen, the esteemed Chief Operations Officer of Cash Practice Systems, oversees a pioneering platform highly regarded in the chiropractic community for its unparalleled ability to boost revenue and retention rates. At its core are innovative tools like The Wellness Score, Care Plan Calculator, Auto-Debit, and Drip-Education Systems, meticulously crafted to aid doctors in enhancing patient retention and revenue. With unwavering commitment, Holly has been instrumental in solidifying Cash Practice Systems as the premier choice for chiropractors seeking practice optimization. Prior to her COO role, Holly collaborated with Dr. Miles Bodzin, CEO of Cash Practice Systems, in leading a highly successful wellness practice in San Diego, showcasing dedication to patient care. Together, they've dedicated over two decades to advancing chiropractic care, inspiring practitioners worldwide. Explore for transformative tools.

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