The inability to collect on a debt is a huge detriment to revenue. You can, however, maximize patient collections with these best practices
Online medical tools are at the forefront of managing the practice’s finances. Practice management software and patient portals are keys to tackling the debt
We live in an era of high copays and high deductibles, which unfortunately means huge medical bills for patients. When patients are unable to pay these bills, practices suffer the consequences. Let’s look at some of the data regarding healthcare collection and debt.
The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACA) notes the average recovery rate of collections and debt to be about 15.3 percent by hospitals, and 21.8 percent by non-hospitals. Additionally, in 2012, hospitals reported an increase in charity and bad debt cases (5.93 percent of their total second-quarter 2014 compared to 5.09 percent in the first quarter), amounting to $45.9 billion in uncompensated care.
The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) reports a startling 60% collection rate for copays for medical practices.
Tackling the problem of medical debt is difficult because of the many approaches to resolving collection workflow. There are, however, a few best practices that can improve the patient collection percentage. PrognoCIS strives to keep its clients debt-free by offering user-friendly practice management software and expert Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) services to combat debt. Here we compile a list of best practices from our RCM billers and leading financial management groups, to help you stay debt-free.
1. Educate your patients
Education is the foundation for successful account resolution. Education means effectively communicating with patients about bills and financial agreements, prior to the time of service. Bills should be clear, concise, and in language, patients can understand. Be sure to:
- Create firm account resolution policies and make sure they are followed by both staff and patient
- Be consistent in all aspects of account resolution, from payment policies to billing disputes
- Communication between partners and associates about account resolutions to avoid mismanaging accounts
- Exercise good judgment about the best ways to communicate with patients about bills
- Start the account resolution clock when the first statement is sent to the patient
- Report back to credit bureaus when an account is resolved (in the event that an account is reported to a credit bureau)
- Consult outside sources like the Healthcare Financial Management Associate for tips on account resolution
- Understand patients are human and are prone to error. Check to see if there is an error on your side before pursuing account resolution
2. Purchase a practice management system (PMS)
Medical billing software is essential to your collection process. It enables you to electronically track bills, automate late fees, and identify patients who are behind on payments. A PMS expedites the collection process as it allows billers to multiple records from one screen.
Better yet, utilize a practice management system that is integrated with your electronic medical records (EMR). An integrated EMR/PMS system ensures accurate information to be conveyed both ways, which is essential for billers to process fees. An integrated system allows billers access to the medical record side of a system when resolving accounts—information straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth.
3. Promote online payments via your patient portal
Payments should be easy and stress-free. Promote online payments via a patient portal as a way to give patients the convenience of paying through a secure connection from the comfort of home. Online payments save time and resources as you don’t have to deal with physical paperwork, and you can collect payments faster.
Not only will online payments help patient collections, but it also allows you to promote your patient portal. A patient portal is the foundation of online medical care and a gateway between provider and patient. The portal supplements the patient experience by keeping patients involved and educated, which leads to better health outcomes.
Maximizing Patient Collections is Essential to Your Practice
The growing trend of higher deductibles and copays with health insurance gives patients increased responsibility for their healthcare. As patients receive more responsibility, more pressure is put on providers to collect payments, as payments are a significant portion of revenue. By enabling best practices in the patient collection, medical practices will maximize their earning potential and keep their patient collection percentage high.