Implement service codes to crack down on missed charges


Missed charges can result in thousands in lost revenue for your practice. But here's the good news: The solution is as simple as developing a few service codes.

Now more than ever, veterinary practice owners should be concerned about missed charges, because revenue isn't getting any easier to come by. Let's suppose a practice misses 5 percent of its charges. That's $50,000 a year for a $1 million practice. And the impact is probably bigger than the $50,000 looks because a large percent of that lost revenue is pure profit.

Missed charges come in many different forms. One common culprit: A veterinarian performs a service but fails to include it on the travel sheet. At our most recent Macomb-Oakland County Management Seminars (MOMS) meeting, we did the following exercise: Identify a service or two that you're not charging for but should be. For example, do you charge for a medical exam each day for hospitalized patients? The results were eye-opening.

The solution? Come up with a code for these services. The code is important because without it, team members don't know how or what to charge for the service. This hit home for me a few weeks ago, when I found out we weren't charging a client for medicating her pet's ears once a day because she couldn't do it at home. Why wouldn't we charge for our team's time and effort? Perhaps because we didn't have a code.

Here are a few of the services I've added over the years that now benefit the practice's bottom line, thanks to the creation of the right codes: prevaccine injections, surgical monitoring, surgical packs, infusion pumps, technician assistant time (per minute), additional restraint, technician time (per minute), and doctor time (per minute).

What services have you added? And what else can you add? Be fair to your clients, but be equally fair to your team and the practice.

Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, Is president of Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan.

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