How to Make Patient Collections More Efficient in a Medical Practice
As anyone running a medical practice knows, even the most successful medical practices sometimes have problems with patient collections. Yet, keeping patient payments on-time is essential for having enough working capital on hand to keep a medical practice open. We are offering some recommendations on how medical offices can increase successful collections by modifying the patient collections process to better accommodate a patient's needs. Here are some recommendations that could help your medical office.
Ask Patients to Pay Up Front
According to the Camden Group, a company specializing in healthcare research, statistics show that paying up front is one option for a doctor to get the money that is owed to them. The chance of patients paying at check-in is 90 percent. Patients will conclude they won't be seen without paying, so most are willing to pay before meeting with the doctor. However, statistics show this rate drops to 70 percent right after the visit has been completed. The rate is lowered to only 40 percent just one month after the visit. Doctors can avoid all of these problems simply by having a policy where patients must pay upfront, or they will not be able to be seen.
Switch Up the Patient Statement Cycle
In a typical patient statement cycle, the billing department sends three to five statements, one to three letters, and makes one to two phone calls before sending the invoice over to a collection agency usually after nine to 12 months. This process is lengthy, but statistically squanders resources. Printing all of those letters and statements won't change the fact that the patient simply can't afford to, or simply doesn't want to pay.
As an alternative, doctors should consider implementing a quicker, more streamlined patient statement cycle. One suggestion is to start with one to two statements, move to one to two letters. Avoid all phone calls. That should be enough of an indicator that the account could be handed over to the collection agency within three months.
Inform Patients of What They Need to Pay
Frequently, it's not that patients aren't willing to pay, it's that they are not prepared to pay. According to a 2014 TransUnion Survey, up to 62% of patients were surprised by out-of-pocket healthcare costs. On top of that, only 25 percent of those patients were informed by their doctor beforehand what their actual treatment cost estimate would be.
The billing department or office should always check insurance eligibility on every patient before their visit to determine the copay or deductible. By doing this, offices can inform patients exactly what their payment will be prior to the visit to give them more time to prepare and acquire the funds.
Offer Online Payment Options
Younger patients might be more likely to pay their bills through an online payment portal. This payment method makes it easy for patients to know exactly what they owe at any given point. Instead of waiting for an invoice to arrive in the mail, they can simply log into their account, see their payment or balance amount, and pay with a credit or debit card.
Please Note: It's extremely important to ensure that any online payment system is secure so that it complies with HIPAA requirements. Any breach in security could put a patient's private health information at risk.
Create a Payment Installment Program
This is a good idea especially for more expensive procedures. Many patients just can't afford to pay a large bill all at once. To increase your office’s chances of getting any reimbursement, payment plans are very helpful. A structured payment plan of gives the patient a chance to pay their bill over time on a set schedule. Naturally, this method will take more time to get the money, however, it's much better than not getting paid at all.
For more help redesigning the patient collections process and getting a better medical billing solution, doctors' offices can contact RevPro Healthcare Solutions at 561-578-8400. With years of in-depth experience, RevPro Healthcare Solutions can help medical businesses enact new policies for increased revenue.