Collecting outstanding patient balances is never an easy task. With the result of the pandemic, many people are facing financial difficulties that may also be pushing out your receivables. Having a practice management system (PMS) makes it easier for any practice to handle patient information that is a factor in maintaining your practice’s financial health.
1. Accurate Patient Information and Clear Communication
Decide how your practice obtains patient demographic and insurance information. With today’s healthcare software, many medical offices have patient portals, where patients can log in to enter or update their demographic, health, and insurance information before they present for service.
Having correct patient demographic and insurance information is vital for accurate insurance billing. “Claims are most often rejected due to incorrect or invalid information that does not match what’s on file with the payer.”
a. Clear Message of Practice Financial Policies
Even if the amount is unknown at the time of setting an appointment, the office staff should state that any co-pay, deductible, or self-pay amount is due at the time of service.
Your practice must create a formal payment policy to “help patients better understand your practice’s financial policies.” This information should be available in new patient packets, on your website, and easily seen in the reception area.
b. Patient Insurance Verification
Before a patient’s visit, it’s vital to verify insurance coverage to be ready to collect patient financial responsibility. Today’s PMS software makes it easy to verify patient insurance online.
c. Self-Pay Payment Policy
All new self-pay patients may need to be directed to another person to go over the office visit costs and payment due at the time of service. When patients cannot pay in full, established payment amounts and payment plans are vital for collecting monies upfront.
Shorter invoice cycles can also help to lower your receivables. Offering a range of payment options, cash, check, or credit card will aid in the patient collection process. Giving patients a way of paying online can also help facilitate collections.
2. Have a Well-Defined Internal Collection Process
The last thing you want to do is employ a collection agency with rates that can range “from 20% to 50% of the amount collected.”
- Get patient statements out the door as soon as possible, once patient responsibility is determined.
- “Train staff on how to have financial discussions with patients and develop scripts to guide their conversations.”
- “Flag charts of patients with delinquent balances” to discuss their balances due when they call for a new appointment.
3. Patient Collections with a Compassionate Mind
In a time when it’s harder to get patients to follow-up, taking a more compassionate approach to billing and collections can help you build and retain loyal patients. Even patients with insurance now have “high deductible insurance plans leaving them on the hook for a larger percentage of the cost for their care.”
While not all patients will be able to pay the amounts you would like, you may have to set up payment plans unique to patient financial situations. It’s better to get a small amount every month than to get nothing at all.
4. Determine When to Turn Patient Accounts Over to a Collection Agency
It’s even harder to turn patients over to a collection agency and possibly terminating their care. At a certain point, it’s no longer productive to waste time and money chasing money.
- Determine your practice’s policy for employing a collection agency.
- Determine how and when you will communicate this policy to your patients.
- Determine how to handle patient care with delinquent accounts, based on your “state’s collection laws to understand any debt collecting requirements.”
- Determine “how to select a collection agency.”
5. An Online Presence Can Help Build a Successful Practice
“Recent statistics reveal that two-thirds of patients will choose a provider based on their online presence, underscoring the importance of a strong online presence.” Not only does a website allow new patients to find your practice and see what your patients have to say, but it also gives you a way to communicate your practice’s financial policies. A website also allows you to provide your patients with information health guidelines and information to help them avoid obtaining misguided data. At Creosen, we have the expertise to help your practice create and build your online presence.