Patient collections is one of the most challenging endeavors medical practices face today. The question every medical practice struggles to answer is "How can I get more money from patients?"
The continual complications of the nation's health insurance landscape have left medical practices struggling to stay ahead. Insured or not, collecting from patients has become a daunting task. For practices today that want to create a new culture of patient collections, a new strategy must be implemented to handle increasing costs.
To help you navigate the increasingly complex financial waters of healthcare, here is an easy, stress-free 3-step strategy to improve your patient collections:
1. Define what you can collect.
Begin by looking at your current contracts and participation agreements with the various insurance companies you work with. Determine what you are and aren't allowed to do. For instance, are you able to collect unmet deductibles or copayments? Who are you going to be collecting from?
Another strategy many practices are beginning to implement again is patient eligibility verification software that helps estimate what a patient will owe. This is a patient friendly way to approach the payment conversation because it eliminates the sticker shock of expensive medical visits. Patients are better prepared to manage their healthcare bills if they have an estimate of what they will be held responsible for.
There are generally 3 patient types:
- The patient with a credit card in hand.
- The patient who needs a bit of nudging.
- The patient who has no intention of paying.
First identify which type of patients you have and then follow these steps to get them closer to patient #1.
2. Decide on a collection process.
Revisit your pre-visit, in-visit, and post-visit communications. An easy, yet effective, change you can make is to simply change the collection script that occurs during the visit. Instead of asking a patient whether they'd like to pay, ask how they'd like to pay. This is a simple change to make to reposition a patient's perspective on making financial arrangements with your staff.
If a patient isn't able to pay just then, put parameters in place for an alternative patient collections payment plan. One solution for this is a card on file payment system that can be used to set up individual payment plans.
3. Implement and execute necessary resources, tools, and training.
Take an inventory of current patient collections processes. Do you need to hire more people? Do you need to upgrade your payment software? Do you need to update your patient collections policies?
A successful patient collections plan will depend on the needs of your practice and staff. Have regular meetings with staff to determine what is working, what is not working, and what is needed to make improvements.
All 3 steps must be used together to be successful. For instance, you cannot simply upgrade your patient collections software and hope it will work. You also have to establish a patient friendly methodology for communicating with patients, setting up payment expectations, and proactively asking for payments. All of these steps work together to create a culture of patient collections in your medical practice. Adhere to the 3 step plan for continued success with patient collectons.
Card on file is more than just a payment system, it's a methodology. Download the guide to learn about the technology as well as the best practices for developing and implementing a proactive patient collections plan.