The above statement from a recent healthcare trends report are very eye-opening with regard to the state of patient collections in healthcare today. Over 90% of consumers are telling providers that they want to know more information upfront regarding their payments. This need is a driving force which should help steer your patient collections both before and after the time of service.
In today’s healthcare environment, patients have a financial responsibility which includes higher deductibles and greater out-of-pocket expenses. Practices must come up with collections strategies that focus on the patient’s contribution to the overall revenue of the business. These strategies should use proactive communication and provide patients with options and flexibility.
As digital security improves, consumers have become more comfortable giving merchants their credit or debit card information. This is important for patient collections as it opens a new avenue for your practice to process payments. Make sure your billing software is capable of securely storing patients information, including credit card data.
Tools such as online payment portals can boost collections because they are easy and convenient, allowing patients to act on their own time. Consider a medical billing company that can offer a payment portal customized with a provider’s name and logo if creating your own is not feasible. This customization builds patients’ confidence in the portal, ensuring they’ll use it again while reducing administrative work for your staff.
Properly advising the patient of your payment policies and pricing estimates will go a long way to creating a streamlined partnership between patient and provider. A good front office will contact patients to remind them of upcoming visits. This time should also be used to remind patients of any applicable copayment or deductible. This will give patients the opportunity to ask questions and verify with their insurer to avoid any surprises.
With regard to your payment process or policy, it should be acknowledged by both the patient and practice early on, in order to ensure the collections process is successful. Additionally, make sure your most important policies are posted near the check-in window and online. This type of transparency is a must-have process in healthcare as patients’ financial responsibility has gone up, causing them to be increasingly interested in this side of the office visit.
Once patients leave the provider, they likely have other obligations to handle. Their financial responsibility to the provider may go unnoticed simply because it’s not something they pay for regularly. Providers will need to stay in the minds of their patients by consistently providing them with payment reminders, ideally via statements. This is especially helpful if they receive a statement shortly after their appointment. The longer the practice waits to bill the patient, the more likely the patient will delay payment.
During the collections process, remind those in charge with collecting to remain cordial in all interactions with patients. Patients are more likely to work with the provider when the process is a more friendly ordeal as opposed to what may sometimes feel like a standard tone of collections, thus creating a negative interaction. This can be especially useful during the first attempts and interactions.
Practices that embrace these three tips and take the time to address patient collections, should see a change in the overall flow of their patient collections. Creating a proactive approach that focuses patient education and communication will allow practices to turn their attention and efforts toward patients care.
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