The Importance of Patient Demographics

by Applied Medical Systems

Young female receptionist working with patient in clinic; blog: the importance of patient demographics


As a medical provider, you understand the struggle that comes with collecting timely payments on outstanding patient bills.  If you’re looking to improve your billing and collection process, don’t underestimate the importance of patient demographics

Patient demographics are generally the first bit of information gathered from the patient and contain everything from the patient’s date of birth to which insurance carriers they participate with. From a billing standpoint they determine who to send the claim to, where to mail the final bill, and who to call if there is an issue with payment. Any point in this process can be derailed if correct information is not obtained while the patient is in your office.   

Whether you handle medical billing in-house or have entrusted a medical billing company, such as Applied Medical Systems, to handle the billing for you, getting paid on time can come down to a simple, but often overlooked, detail: patient demographics

Why Demographics Matter

It is just as important to update patient demographics at check-in for existing patients as it is for new patients. If an existing patient has moved or changed their phone number, then attempts to send them bills and follow up with phone calls is fruitless. If their insurance has changed then claims filed to the old provider may get denied and payments delayed.

Asking patients to update their demographics is key. However, simply asking “is all your information the same?” doesn’t do the trick. The patient may not realize you have their old address on-file and not realize that their information needs to be updated. It is important to create a standard demographic collection process that everyone in your office utilizes. It is worth an extra minute with each patient to avoid lost time and costly denial in the future. 

Collect Information to Update Patient Demographics 

Below is a list of the information you should be gathering at each appointment to keep patient demographics up-to-date. Most of this is seems obvious but is often still not collected correctly. 

  • Address
    • "Are you still located at 123 Main Street?”
    • “Can you please confirm your current address?”
  • Phone Number
    • “Can you please confirm your home and work number for me?”
    • “Do you have a cell phone number you would like me to add?”
  • Employer
    • “Are you still employed by The State of North Carolina?”
    • “Mrs. Jones, who is your current employer?”
  • Insurance Information
    • “Is your primary insurance coverage still with Blue Cross Blue Shield?”
    • “Do you have a secondary insurance you would like to add?”
    • “I see you have changed jobs, do you need to update your insurance on file?”
  • Workers Compensation
    • “Is today’s visit related to an injury suffered at work or in an accident?”

Practicing and reviewing the information above with your staff will go a long way in ensuring that patient information is as fresh and accurate as possible. 

Learn More about AMS

If your practice is struggling with billing and payments, outsourcing these services may be right for you. Applied Medical Systems (AMS) is a trusted medical billing company with over 30 years of medical experience. To learn more about our medical billing services, click here. To request a free quote, contact Applied Medical Systems today.