We’ve learned a lot in twenty years of providing payment services for practices. One very clear lesson is that patients tend to complete treatments that they are actively paying for.
It works something like this. Say a patient needs weekly or monthly treatments for a particular ailment, injury, or mental health issue. In the cases where a practice communicates the cost of each treatment and sets them up on a regular payment plan to cover those costs, the patient tends to finish the treatment plan. If the practice simply bills the patient each time a single treatment is done, the patient tends to continue treatment until he or she feels better. Even if the doctor or practitioner insists that the treatments aren’t finished.
We’ve come to call it the Netflix effect. Whenever we subscribe to a service, give that service our credit card number to bill, and then start using that service, we usually think nothing of the ongoing billing. We just let it run. If Netflix were to send us a paper bill every time we used the service, or even monthly, making us write a check, put it in an envelope, stamp it, and put it in our mailbox, we probably wouldn’t use that service. Once it becomes a hassle, we’ll stop doing it as soon as we have another option.
Similarly, your patients will be much happier to come for weekly or monthly treatments if they know they’ve already paid for them. Let’s say the office visit is $150.00 and insurance will pay $75.00. Your patients will tend to continue if you set them upon $75.00 weekly or monthly payments that happen automatically. If they have to handle and pay a paper bill for each treatment, they’ll stop when they feel better regardless the doctor’s advice.
How do we know this? Because we’ve talked to doctors about this for the last twenty years and have seen it play out over and over again. We are not sure what part of human behavior triggers this but we know it works.
This is how you do it. Once you know the treatment plan, estimate as closely as possible what the patient will have to pay for each treatment after insurance adjudication. As in our example above, if the cost will be $75 per week, let the patient know that you will set up a payment plan transaction for every Friday until the doctor recommended treatment is finished. If that’s six weeks or nine or whatever, the patient knows it’s good. The patient can come any day of the week and know that the treatment is paid for with the automatic payment on Friday.
Payment plans encourage your patients to complete treatment while ensuring your practice gets paid for them! This simple graphic outlines a payment plan for treatment plan program.