With bad debt and increased patient payment responsibilities in the healthcare industry, hospitals are feeling the pressure of increased patient receivables. To face this problem head on, financial leaders are looking to become more aggressive in their point of service collection programs. And it’s no wonder why: the average American has $1,766 in medical debt. Point of service payment increases your cash flow and eliminates tedious and costly work that plagues hospital billing departments.
70% of hospitals collect less than 30% of payments at the point-of-service. Patients are often unprepared or unwilling to pay at the point of service, and this is often due to the fact they are are uneducated about all of their options. You don’t want payments going to back-end collections where you may not see the bill paid in full. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure you’re getting paid at the point of service.
Here are 5 tips hospitals can use to improve their point of service payments:
1. Get Buy-In From Senior Leadership
When it comes to your bottom-line, a point of service payment program will shave bad debt and insure that your cash flow is steady. Explain this to your executives! Not only will it help your revenue cycle, it’ll lead to the empowerment of your employees and increased customer satisfaction. Once you get senior leadership on board, moving forward with more strategic point of service collection plans will be much easier.
2. Educate Your Staff
Point of service methodologies could (and should) totally change the culture of your workplace. Some employees may not initially feel comfortable with collecting money, that’s why it’s so important to educate, empower, and engage. Provide training to your staff; they’re not just collecting money, they’re educating the patient on the benefits of paying upfront.
Hospital collections are different and more challenging than medical practice collection efforts because of the nature and seriousness of the patient's visit. This oftentimes intimidates staff and perhaps even makes them feel guilty for asking for payment at the time of service. To overcome this, engage staff in various roleplay scenarios. Provide sample talking tracks. With proper training, even the most apprehensive employee will be adept at collecting money at the time of service.
3. Educate Your Patients
Paying a large sum of money upfront could make some weary, that’s why it’s so important to provide your patients with all of their financial obligations before they’re seen. Patients are more likely to pay at the point of service if they know how much their insurance will cover, what their deductible will look like, and any potential liabilities they may encounter.
Again, this is more challenging for hospitals who deal with unforeseen and unplanned for visits. In these situations, it might be more worthwhile to instead educate patients on their various payment options and the possibility for arranging payment through payment plans. It will depend on the seriousness of the issue and will vary from case to case.
4. Utilize Technology
The landscape of the health IT industry is always evolving to provide an easier experience for both the medical professional and the patient. From eligibility verification tools to payment processors, hospitals are looking for new solutions. A payment technology that works especially well for hospitals who generally struggle more than other health entities when it comes to collecting point of service payments is a payment strategy like collecting a card on file. Collecting payment information at the time of service is the best way to ensure payment. Not to mention it is efficient and convenient for patients to simply leave their payment information to be charged after their bill is determined rather than dealing with that issue while they are seeking immediate treatment.
5. Offer Additional Payment Options
If a patient is unprepared to pay all of their medical costs upfront, maximize the options they have in order to pay. Take cash, credit cards, debit cards and cash. Have an ATM on-site. If your staff is well-trained and they encounter objections, offer payment plans. Allow for differing payment methods in order to increase the odds of the patient paying upfront.
Trying to increase your point of service payments can be challenging. However, if all employees top-down are ready to commit to a change in culture, you’ll be increasing your cash flow while making life easier for yourself, your staff and your patients.