Lockboxes vs P.O. Boxes: What’s Better for Revenue Cycle Management?

Do the benefits of a P.O. box outweigh those of a lockbox? Learn more about lockbox processing and the best choice for your emergency department’s revenue cycle management now.

Is your emergency medicine group using a lockbox or a P.O. box for your revenue management?

Both processing methods ensure a safe, secure, confidential way for your patients and their insurance companies to mail their payments to your group.

But is one option better than the other when it comes to your bottom line and compliance records?

This guide covers the differences between both options, including the downsides and benefits, so you have everything you need to make the best choice.

What’s the Difference Between a Medical Lockbox and a P.O. Box?

Choose a post office (P.O.) box, and your group will have a dedicated mailbox at the post office where someone from your team will need to unlock the box, pick up the checks, deposit them, and record the payment.

Go with a lockbox service, and your bank or financial institution will offer your group a secure mailbox and the means to collect and process patient checks for you. Bank employees will deposit those checks into your account, making for a smooth transaction.

Though they seem similar, each option offers unique advantages and downsides you’ll need to weigh.

Lockbox Pros and Cons to Consider for Revenue Cycle Management

There are a few major perks when it comes to using lockboxes, but that doesn’t mean this service is perfect:

The Benefits of Lockboxes

Funds are available sooner. Since payments are collected by bank employees and deposited into your account quickly, your team has quicker access to revenue earlier.

Saves your team time. Employees no longer have to collect payments, prepare deposit slips, and take a trip to the bank to add money to your account. This saves your team time and streamlines the revenue collection process.

Lower chances of revenue loss. Since your employees won’t be handling the majority of your checks, your group may reduce the chances of theft or accidental mishandling.

The Downsides of Lockboxes

They can be expensive. The features offered by lockbox providers sound nice, but they come at a hefty price. Besides the typically high setup fee, your group will also need to pay monthly maintenance fees.

Many lockboxes also charge on a per payment basis, which means your costs could quickly escalate.

Groups with higher amounts of small checks may rack up expensive service bills ranging in the thousands, which may minimize profit.

It doesn’t account for all revenue collection. What happens when you hire a lockbox service and also collect checks in-house at the time of service?

Your team still has to make out deposit slips and visit the bank to deposit the checks. So if you choose a lockbox service, you’re only shaving off a portion of your deposit load.

Increases the risk of double-billing. Your team members have to post the payments the day after they’re deposited. But your bank sends you the slips the next day, not the day of.

If those posted checks are a day or more late, you’ll risk double billing both insurance carriers and patients alike.

Do this and you’ll run into compliance issues and frustrations from both parties.

Greater potential for errors. You should ask your bank which team members work on your lockbox in particular.

It’s often bank tellers with the least experience and seniority who work on these tasks. While that may be great for the bank, it’s risky for your payment collection.

These employees also deposit a high volume of checks at once, which only increases the margin for error.

Because of this volume, some lockbox services use offshore contractors, adding to the riskiness of their service.

Without really knowing who’s working on your payment collection, you may be susceptible to fraud from an unethical employee or contractor.

Now that you understand both the good and bad qualities of lockboxes, let’s go over P.O. boxes.

P.O. Box Pros and Cons to Consider for Revenue Cycle Management

P.O. boxes have more upsides than downsides for your emergency medicine group:

The Benefits of a P.O. Box

Cost-effective yet secure. Despite the low cost, you’re still getting a safe, highly controlled place to collect your payments with a P.O. box. You need a key to access your P.O. box, and most boxes are monitored on security cameras.

Compared to leaving checks in your office mailbox or on a desk, which can tempt unethical employees or fall through the cracks, a P.O. box may be a smarter choice.

Timely. You’ll typically get your mail sooner with a P.O. box than with a lockbox. Some locations post mail as early as 11 am or noon.

This means you won’t have to wait for your bank to collect and deposit all of the other lockboxes first before getting access to your checks.

The Downsides of a P.O. Box

You must keep up with deliveries, or your mailbox could overflow and prevent you from receiving future any more checks on time.

It requires someone you trust. You’ll need an employee to keep track of the mailbox key, physically go to the post office to retrieve your checks, and not lose either along the way. 

As you can see, P.O. boxes have fewer drawbacks; their most significant obstacles are easy to overcome with the right partner in revenue cycle management.

The DuvaSawko Upgrade to Your Payment Collection Process

We’re big fans of the P.O. box here at DuvaSawko. We saved one of our clients a whopping $45,000 a year just by switching to one! 

Interested in what we can do for you? 

DuvaSawko handles the inconveniences and security issues that dissuade groups from using a P.O. box, and this service is popular with many of our clients.

Here’s how it works:

Instead of sending one of your team members to your P.O. box, we send one of our employees.

He or she will place the contents of your P.O. box in a specific locked bag for transport. Your bag gets delivered directly into the hands of another trusted member of our team — not left somewhere on a desk.

Once your checks are accounted for and deposited, they’re placed in a secure and locked filing cabinet that only a few team members have access to.

The benefits of the DuvaSawko P.O. box payment collection process include:

  • Easy transition. You don’t need to switch from the P.O. box you’re already using. You can also incorporate this service into your existing revenue cycle management processes.
  • Accountability. We carefully monitor the chain of ownership to ensure none of your payments slip through the cracks.
  • Fewer potential errors. We use different team members to batch and balance your payments to minimize mistakes.
  • Added security. We retain copies of your checks in a secure SOC 2 compliant digital file that’s only accessible by individuals working on your account.

And that’s just the start of how DuvaSawko can help with your payment processing.

You can learn more about our payment and refund services by visiting this page now.

Lockbox vs P.O. Box: Which is Right for Your Revenue Cycle Management?

You may have a clear winner in mind after learning about the differences between a lockbox service and a P.O. box. 

Your emergency medicine group will pay extra to use an antiquated lockbox service, and the stack of downsides may be more of a hassle to deal with.

If you’re already using a P.O. box, or thinking about switching to one after the headaches of your current lockbox provider, consider partnering with DuvaSawko. Our service captures all the benefits of a P.O. box and minimizes the few downsides.

Want to talk numbers? Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help you determine which option is best for your revenue cycle management needs.

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