With an increase in high-deductible plans, soaring medical bills, new rules, and increasing patient responsibility, patients are usually not ready to pay high bills. Nevertheless, a few below mentioned strategies can gauge and boost the ‘Patient Payment Collection’ process.
- Payment type: To provide maximum flexibility, make all types of payments available at any given point (before, during or after the treatment) in the revenue cycle process. These could be credit, debit, check, e-check (conversion), FSA (Flexible Spending Account), online bill payments, HSA cards or payment plans. Make it trouble-free and manageable at any payment outlet such as web, phone, and point of service, mail or kiosk. This will reduce the bills sent to collections, ensure timely payments, simplify and speed-up the cash flow, and decrease resources to identify and track wrong bills.
- Transparency: It is imperative to be transparent with the patient about costs (especially the patients who are on high-deductible plans or those who require ongoing medical help). Check the insurance plan of the patient and recommend the total out-of-pocket costs before treatment. Also, share your billing policy (via ads in office, web, post or emails) explicitly with your patients (new and old) to avoid confusion.
- Staff: The administrative staff can make use of reminder tools to trace the patients’ unpaid debts. You can also make use of the US Postal Service to track patients that have changed residence (and have unpaid bills). For a small fee, the US postal service would send you the new address. This will be convenient for your staff in ensuring prompt payments.
- Software: Install and implement ‘Practice Management Software’ which enables the staff to input and verify the patients’ billing and insurance particulars leading to faster payments, decreased A/Rs and no disagreement on clinical claims. Further, the implementation of ICD-10 would impart precise information on conditions and treatments thereby clarifying the costs associated, leading to a reduction of disputed invoices. ‘Analytics software’ aids in recognizing small overdue bills, tracking patients who delay payments and creating a proactive plan for them. The ‘Medical Billing Software’ automatically adds late fees to patients’ bills who have not paid and the number of days it is past due. It also aids in highlighting partial payments and the physicians’ outstanding fee.
- Financial: Ensure that your patients are aware of your financial policies and have signed them. Attain a ‘patient balance’ or the ‘patient liability estimation’ – the time limit if crossed or the cash limit due to be sent to a collections agency if unpaid. Schedule a meeting at monthly intervals to review the finances and the payment collection strategies, and revise those that aren’t effective.
The right solution is to bridge the gap between the physicians’ collection and patient payment billing capability. Physicians work hard to cure the ailing and serve the nation. They deserve to be compensated!