Is improving your patient payment collection a priority for your practice this year? If not, you might be in trouble.
There has been a surge in high–deductible and co-insurance plans. This means patients are now having to pay more. And they are not always ready to pay bigger medical bills.
Each time a patient does not pay you. It puts your practice at risk. Ensuring your practice is collecting patient balances in a timely manner is imperative.
We have been able to brainstorm a list of 7 steps that can go a long way towards improving patient collections for your practice. This will definitively enhance revenue collection and the cash flow of your enterprise.
Why Don’t Patients Pay?
A majority of patients will likely pay on time. But what about the other half that doesn’t? They might delay payment. Or find ways to avoid paying completely. We need to understand the “Why” behind this mindset. So that we can start working towards a solution.
There could be multiple reasons. Such as uncertainty about the balance that is due. The patient statement might be confusing. They might not be able to afford the bill. The patient might have forgotten about the bill. And maybe some patients just do not want to spend their money.
Our tips will span the entire patient collection process. This will enable you to oversee what might not be working at each step of the operation.
The Front Desk:
The patient collection cycle starts early on. From the minute a patient schedules an appointment with the front desk. Here, the front desk should verify the patient’s current insurance. And other, relevant details.
Gathering this updated information, your Practice Management System should run an eligibility check on the patient. If an issue does arise, the patient can be contacted before the appointment. Ensure you have the current copy of the insurance card handed by a patient.
Point Of Service:
When the patient is standing in front of you, that is the best time to collect payment. The front desk should notify the patient of any prior outstanding balances. Asking for payment will increase revenue collection substantially. Particularly, by reducing billing department costs. Valuable resources will not be invested in chasing down a patient.
Due to varying insurance policies, it is always best to collect payment upfront. Insurance company fee schedules are also available online and can be referred to. Collecting at the time of service will result in fewer collection costs.
Each practice needs to have a foolproof financial agreement. This agreement will outline all their financial policies. Essentially, a practice is extending credit to a patient. This means a financial agreement is imperative.
Refer to an experienced attorney to help create this document. It should be clarified, easily readable and legally binding. Particularly, legally binding in your specific state.
A few items it could include are; When the payment is due. A payment plan policy. The interest rate on the balance due. Credit card on file policy. And numerous other things that should be inked on official paper.
Patient statements can be complex. Patients should know how to read them. You can teach them how to better articulate patient statements. If they can clearly understand the bill, they can pay it quickly.
These statements need to be issued at least once a month. If you are sending statements out every day, however, you are billing patients for dues. Here’s a tip; If you are billing the patient within 24 hours of posting. There is a higher likelihood of you obtaining a fast payment.
You can also optimize your practice for patient experience. Patient or credit card portals can help people pay easier. At times, outsourcing your medical billing department can be a game-changer. Specifically, if it is to one of the best medical services in your area.
Once the patient statement is out, you need to move on to the collection letter. Various studies have been conducted on the subject. And they reveal that a softer letter works far better than a hard letter.
The collection letter should adopt a sympathetic tone. Where you vocalize that your practice understands that money is not a simple matter. And that you are here to offer them more convenient ways to pay.
You do, however, need to incorporate a hint of urgency to the letter as well. This can be achieved by allocating a certain date of response. Make the letter time-bound. Outsourcing to a medical billing company could be critical to your success. They could offer customized medical billing services, tailored to your practice.
Follow Up Calls For Collection:
You have allocated a response date to your letter. Once that date has been crossed, you need to start the follow-up calls. We recommend a day after the given date. Vary the time of calls if you are not receiving a swift response.
Reasonable Payment Plans:
You can also help patients by offering them reasonable payment plans. You could square up and divide the costs more feasibly. You could ask the patient to divide the due balance into two, equal payments. Over two months.
The patient should be signing a formal payment plan with you. It should include all important dates. And the consequences of not paying on time. This will save you a lot of hassle later on.
Following these seven steps could enhance revenues for your practice, and change your cash flow drastically. There is always room for improvement, and you should never be compromising on justified, due payments for your practice.
BillingFreedom is committed to maximizing revenue and boosting efficiency. Employing end-to-end integrated technology solutions, your practice gets paid faster with a 98% first-pass claim acceptance rate. We can take care of all your billing needs!