In this time of high copays and high deductibles, patients are shouldering a greater portion of healthcare. When patients cannot pay medical bills, clinics must resort to collection agencies to scrounge up what little money they can. Practices that focus on the patient can minimize encounters with collection agencies, and increase potential revenue. Our friends at the clearinghouse Navicure have compiled a list of strategies to ensure patients pay their balances in full while avoiding collections agencies, thus increasing revenue and decreasing bad debt.
1. Educate and Set Clear Expectations
Patients appreciate up-front information on how much they owe, when they must pay, and how they can pay. Be proactive and educate your patients throughout your time spent with them. Some ways to maximize account resolution are:
- Create firm account resolution policies and to be followed by both staff and patient
- Practice consistency in all sides of account resolution, from payment policies to billing disputes
- Frequently communicate between partners and associates about account resolutions to avoid mismanaging accounts
- Exercise good judgment about the best ways to communicate with patients about bills
- Make sure to start the account resolution clock when the patient is sent the first statement
- Understand patients are human and are prone to error. Check to see if there is an error on your side before pursing account resolution
2. Institute a 90-day Plan and Bill at least 3 Times
Encourage your staff to collect all self-pay balances within 90 days. By staff, we mean not just billers but front-office or patient access staff to convey this policy to patients. Incentivize 90 day account resolution with rewards if a certain amount of patients pay within that time.
Also, automated payment plans or early pay discounts can reduce your need for statements. However, you may need to send three statements throughout the 90-day period if statements are your primary source of communication. Sending automated, electronic statements (eStatements) can improve efficiency when following up with payments, while also reducing associated costs associated with mailing and paper statements.
3. Leverage Self-Serve Options
Self-service is rapidly becoming a viable method of consumer engagement. Consumers already check into their flights by phone, shop for groceries online and pay for gym memberships with automated debit payments. Offering online check-in and patient account management from your registration area can put your patients in the self-service mindset.
A great way of promoting self-service is the patient portal which gives 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. A patient portal allows you to:
- Securely communicate with patients and send messages lab results, appointment reminders, and electronic statements
- View and book appointments, refill prescriptions
- Have balance statements posted to allow patients to complete transactions within the portal
- Use our custom electronic form templates which save physicians and patients both time and effort
- Transmit data to patients in a HIPAA-compliant fashion
Increase Revenue by Focusing on the Patient
Collection agencies are an important part of the healthcare pipeline, but we want to keep our practices focused on the patient. By creating a relationship with the patient that is engaging and educational, you can minimize encounters with collection agencies. Educating patients is the first step in successful account resolution, and the next step is to practice efficient billing methods. A 90 day payment plan with a monthly billing cycle is ideal as it effectively communicates with patients without excessive notifications. Also, keep in mind how you communicate with patients. Many providers have switched to eStatements because patients prefer this method, and because of convenience and reduced costs.
The healthcare industry is rapidly moving towards electronic healthcare as the primary means to facilitate and document care. Many providers are switching to an integrated electronic health record and practice management software bundle for their practice. An integrated system promotes interoperability and organizational efficiency because the software is created and implemented by the same party. This allows for ease-of-use for both clinic and the biller because everyone has access to the same software. An integrated Electronic Medical Record and PMS system can expedite claims, provide transparency for providers, and much more.
PrognoCIS RCM offers Patient Accounting Services to take calls from your patients, as well as contact them to manage Billing.