Collecting Patient Payments

Collecting patient payments is not always the most fun part of the job. But, more than 23 percent of total revenue in health practices comes from patient collections, according to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). Few can deny that managing patient payments correctly is a significant priority for practices and medical billing services.

More recent reports have indicated that high deductibles have played a significant role in refocusing practice efforts on out-of-pocket costs for patients. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, average combined deductibles within the Marketplace for 2016 were $5,765 for bronze plans. Up from $5,328 in 2015 and $3,064 for silver plans, up from $2,556 in 2015.

While these deductibles are from the Marketplace, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported that current private insurance deductibles have also risen. In 2015. more than 63 percent of privately insured individuals with single coverage experienced $1,000 or more deductibles, compared to only 10 percent in 2006.

In short, collecting patient payments are an unavoidable and vital portion of the revenue stream for modern practices. If you aren’t already prioritizing your payment collection process, now is the time to make essential changes.

Strategies for promoting success

Below are seven invaluable strategies for promoting success in your patient payment policies and For better Collecting patient payments.

Don’t be sorry-be firm about requesting payment. There’s no reason to feel remorseful about requesting payment from your patients. Ensure to counsel staff on this thoroughly, especially those on the frontline of patient interactions. Patients should be aware of deductibles or copays upfront, preferably before the appointment. The team should also endeavor to collect confirmed patient payments, where possible. Before a meeting with the expectation set, there’s no reason why patients shouldn’t be prepared to cover their healthcare costs at the time of service.

Electronic statements make everything easier. Make your life easier by automating any processes you can. The best way to start is by setting up e-statements for your practice, saving everyone time and saving your practice money in the long run.

Break free from the 30-day cycle. Once you’ve set up e-statements, it’s simple to reach out to patients through more reliable and practical forms of media. Since you won’t have to spend money to send out paper statements every month and the effort is much lower, why not reach out to your patients more frequently? Let go of your notions that a 30-day payment cycle is necessary. You can shorten this to bi-weekly, ensuring patients are thoroughly aware of obligations-and many will hasten to do away with past due balances as quickly as possible.

Be specific and clear about due dates. Payment processes should be primarily communication-focused. The first rule of communication is to be clear and precise. Make sure patients know the exact due dates for payment plans, and try to emphasize those expectations clearly with every patient interaction.

Take the time to listen and work with your patients. Most patients genuinely do want to meet their obligations. Understanding each patient’s needs and capabilities is a big part of making that possible. Any successful practice needs to create clear policies that are communicated upfront to patients. Still, your staff must also listen when unanticipated circumstances arise or a patient needs to exceed payment capabilities. Even when situations take unexpected turns, the right payment plans or arrangements can ensure all parties are satisfied with the outcome.

Never miss an opportunity to confirm details or ask for balances. Every conversation with a patient, whether phone-based or at the practice, should include a confirmation of patient contact information and a discussion of patient balances. While this might seem like overkill, the fact is that you don’t speak to some patients all that frequently. You don’t want to miss any chance that your communications might be cut or a past due balance might go unaddressed.

For better-Collecting patient payments, manage payment plans as a unique category. Don’t let your payment plans get away from you. Simplify the process by keeping a separate class for your patients under payment arrangements. You want to make sending reminders and regular statements regarding patient payments and balances simple. So keep those files as part of a separate category in your system that will allow you to run reports and manage those files as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Keeping up with patient balances, copays, insurance payments, and other general revenue management tasks is no small matter. But you can make each aspect of your revenue stream flow smoothly with the right technology, transparent policies, effective training practices, and regular patient interaction.

Take a moment to assess your patient collection practices to determine if now is the right time for a change. With only a few adaptations to your approach, your training and patients could benefit from being more accessible. Clearer interactions based on well-established payment guidelines. Ultimately, making it easy for your patients to meet their financial obligations will help your practice flourish.

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