Why We Must Charge for Completing Forms

It recently came to my attention that there was confusion as to why we must charge for completing paper work for patients. I want to try to candidly put this into perspective.

In another post, a long time ago, I spoke about the economics of medical practice. Most providers never talk about this and some would consider it inappropriate to do so. However, I think this discussion plays an important role in patient care and helps our patients understand why we come to work each morning.

The Pacific Rim Headache Center was created for one simple reason, our passion for helping headache sufferers get better. Making money was never on our radar.  Most of our energy, when it comes to finances, is directed toward  avoiding going bankrupt. This is despite having a schedule that is always full.

In this complex culture of medical practice, our expenses are beyond belief.  It cost us $150/hour just to pay our expenses and to keep the doors open. To earn $150/hour we must charge double that because 50% of our fees go unpaid.

In a busy practice the volume of forms is out of control. Recently I took two days off to go and meet my new grandson in Minnesota and for his older brother’s surgery. When I returned home, I had 27 forms waiting on my desk for me to complete.  The simplest of those forms, for refills, FMLA or prior authorizations, take twenty minutes to complete. I must chart on each form in the patient’s record, talk to pharmacies and etc. The most complex of those are forms for lawyers and insurance disability forms.

These more complex forms take thirty minutes to an hour to complete. We do not charge for the simpler forms but we must for the later. For every hour we spend completing forms, it is an hour we are taken away from seeing patients. To help make up for that lost time, we must charge for that time. You must understand that we spend one to two hours per day filling out forms for patients. If we give that time away for free, we could not stay in business for very long and our patients would remain without help.

My most frustrating experience with this form issue is when patients become angry about it and vow to never come back. It is frustrating for me because I want so much to help patients get better and when anything interferes with that goal, I find it disappointing.

If a patient doesn’t want to pay for the form completion, they should simply bring the forms with them and we will discuss them and complete them during the visit.