With the rise in high deductible health plans, patients represent the third largest payer. How prepared are you to collect from them? Best practices begin at the first touch point when scheduling an appointment and carry all the way through providing easy and convenient payment options.
If you have not evaluated your patient collections process, now is the time to take a look. Poor patient billing and collections practices will have a negative impact on your medical practice revenue.
Below are five common problem areas that present an opportunity to increase your medical practice revenue by capturing patient payments more efficiently and effectively.
- Collect and confirm accurate patient information
Accurate patient information and insurance coverage is critically important to your revenue cycle. Incomplete, incorrect or out of date information adds to lagging accounts receivable. Practices should use every patient call as an opportunity or touch point to verify and complete patient demographics, insurance coverage and billing information. This will help to avoid errors down the road and assist with sending better claims and collecting faster payments. Inaccurate patient information accounts for a large portion of failed collections. Uncorrected errors slow down the work flow, create additional tasks and contribute to lagging collections. Develop scripts for your staff to make conversation easier, consistent and to the point.
- Monitor past due balances
Patient collections are challenging whether you are trying to collect from a new patient or an existing patient. If you are not discussing open balances at every opportunity, you are leaving money on the table. Often, there are long stretches of time between face-to-face visits with a patient. Therefore, it is extremely important to be prepared to discuss outstanding balances every time a patient calls. If your medical practice management system does not reflect open balances on the patient level, you should consider upgrading your billing platform.
- Improve patient statement information and messages
Dealing with health situations or illness is difficult enough. Receiving a complicated statement can add stress and result in more phone calls to your practice. Statements should be easy to understand and offer clear instructions about payment options . The clearer you make it, the better the chances of collecting the open balance. Statements should have specific instructions about all available payment options. Many practices are implementing on-line payment portals that provide easy and secure access to make credit card payments at the patient’s convenience.
- Implement flexible payment options
With growing patient financial responsibility, the need for flexible payment options is imperative. Every office should accept credit cards in the front office to collect co-pays, deductibles and open balances. Virtual terminals should be used for medical back office payments by mail or over the phone. Consider a card-on-file protocol or setting up payment plans. Make sure your merchant services is working for you and not against you. Not all solutions are created equal.
- Patient Cost Estimation
Providing accurate, timely cost estimation facilitates a better patient experience, allows you to secure compensation in advance and minimizes collection efforts. A patient cost estimation solution not only offers your patients much-appreciated transparency into the cost of a prospective procedure. It also gives you an advantage when it comes to getting paid faster.
Improving patient collections begins with verifying patient information at every opportunity. Ensure your practice management system reports open balances. Send clear statements so that patients know exactly what they are owed and how they can settle their bill. Identify all the ways a patient can pay, including credit card on file, payment plans or a secure on-line portal. Generating patient cost estimations before service is rendered helps a patient understand the full cost of their medical care and allows time to establish payment strategy. The bottom line – make it easy to pay.
How prepared are you to collect what your patients owe? If you struggle with patient billing and collecting, you are not alone. Contact us to learn more about medical practice management solutions and patient billing and collection services. An integrated solution will help your practice improve the process, facilitate a better patient experience, increase cash flow and achieve growth.