As a medical practice, collecting patient payments can be challenging and delicate. With the rise of high-deductible health plans, it’s more important than ever to have a solid patient collection process in place.
According to the CMS’s 2021 National Health Expenditure (NHE) report, out-of-pocket spending grew 10.4% to $433.2 billion in 2021.
In the past, most of the practice’s revenue came from payers. Health insurance out-of-pocket maximums have been increasing each year, and with the increased burden placed on patients to contribute to their medical bills, practices must be more proactive to keep their revenue flowing.
Here are four steps to improve your patient collections process:
1. Communicate your patients’ payment expectations clearly
One of the biggest reasons for unpaid medical bills is a lack of clear communication. Your patients should understand the details of their medical bills and what they are expected to pay.
When discussing payment responsibilities with patients, your staff must be transparent and let patients know exactly what they will be responsible for paying at the time of service (copayments, previous balances, and more) and what they may be accountable for, post-insurance claim adjudication (coinsurance, deductible, etc.)
To achieve this, explain their bill and payment options clearly. You can also offer a payment plan if necessary.
2. Offer multiple payment methods for your patients
Provide your patients with different options to pay their bills, including paying balances with credit cards over the phone and online and offering payment plans for patients facing financial hardships.
According to the 2022 InstaMed Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report, 91% of consumers pay recurring bills online. Therefore, your medical practice must suggest patients use your online bill-pay services.
The InstaMed report also stated that 49% of consumers would consider switching providers for a better healthcare payment experience.
Patients also want visibility into their payment process. Have a patient payment portal in place. Talk to them about how it works and empower them with ownership over their healthcare bills.
Also, keep a payment method on file for each patient. Tell patients that keeping credit cards on file is part of your practice’s policy. Have a credit card on file or consider requiring a deposit for high-dollar procedures if you can determine or estimate the patient’s responsibility portion; doing so gives you payment assurance.
If your medical practice accepts credit card payments, remember that you must be Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant.
3. Have a solid financial policy
A solid patient financial policy will be clear on the practice’s patient expectations and leave no room for misunderstanding. To avoid confusion, consider including policies such as cancellation fees, returned check fees, and late payment penalties in your financial policy.
Some best practices when sharing your financial policy with your patients are:
- Keep it simple, concise, and understandable
- Share your practice’s financial policy when scheduling appointments and make it available on your website
- Ask new patients to sign your financial policy at the reception desk and give them a copy
- Remind returning patients of your policy. Inform them if you update or change the policy
4. Educate your staff to collect up-front payments and balances
Your staff plays a critical role in the patient collections process. Ensure they are prepared to handle patient collections and understand the importance of timely payments.
According to the 2022 InstaMed Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report, 71% of consumers are confused by their medical bills. Your staff should be well-versed in your billing and payment policies and be able to answer patients’ questions. If your team can explain and articulate these policies, it will be more likely that your patients will understand and pay you for your rendered services.
Collecting amounts due from patients at the time of service offers numerous benefits to practices such as:
- Reducing accounts receivable
- Increasing revenue
- Reducing medical billing and back-end collection costs
- Decreasing the administrative burdens of tracking and writing off bad patient debt
- Managing the growing portion of practice revenue generated from patient payments
Learn more about strategies to improve your patient collections process in our whitepaper How to Improve your Patient Collections Process.
Outsourcing your patient collections is a great way to reduce your staff’s administrative burden and ensure you get paid for your work. At Health Prime, we can help. Our medical billing solutions can allow you to maximize your patient collections and increase cash flow.
Contact us at [email protected]. Our team will set up a meeting to discuss how we can maximize your revenue by cutting costs, saving time, and collecting more!
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