You probably ask yourself this question at least once a week: “Why is collecting patient payments SO HARD?!” And maybe you’re even familiar with this scenario: A pile of unpaid balances on your desk that seems to grow every month.
Well, if you’re thinking that there’s just one answer to this question, you’re making a mistake. In reality, there are a number of factors that make collecting patient payments challenging for healthcare providers.
Don’t freak out, though—we feel you’re pain and we’re here to help! Below are a number of mistakes you may be making that affect your collections, as well as a few tips to get collections back under your control.
You’re Sending the Wrong Message
Sure, you’ve got your payment policies in place and even have signs posted at your front desk explaining the patient’s financial responsibility. But when was the last time you updated these policies? When was the last time you communicated them to your patients? Patients likely expect to pay a copay at the time of visit, as this is pretty commonplace at most practices, but what happens after the visit? Where do you display your policies for that?
If you haven’t updated your policies within your last year, you’re sending the message financial policies are more like suggested guidelines than requirements. So update your policies! Ensure that all of your staff is onboard to adhere to them and communicate them to your patients. Additionally, make sure you update office signage, as well as any electronic communications like your website, emails, and social media—it’s your responsibility that patients understand your policies before their visit.
Further, if your policies don’t include a section stating what payment requirements are enforced after the visit, you’ll want to fix that immediately as well. Most patients understand they’ll likely have to pay a copay at the time of visit, but often times they won’t know their insurance will cover afterwards, especially with more and more patients going on high deductible insurance plans. Health insurance can be complicated, so work with your patients so that everyone is on the same page.
You’re Using Outdated Collection Technology
The best way to ensure that you receive your payments is to offer payment options upfront to avoid any confusion or complications later. However, if you’re using outdated technology, or focusing on sending out patient statements or making collection calls, this might not be possible.
However, credit card on file (CCOF) is an easy payment solution to implement and helps get the patient payment conversation started early. Offer your safe and secure CCOF payment option to ease into the conversation and making things easier for you and your patient.
Implementing CCOF will save your staff from spending their time hunting down unpaid balances, and will save your patients from spending their time trying to figure out the complicated medical billing process. Having a strong payment solution in place will also help you send the right message.
You’re Not Clearly Communicating a Future with Your Patients
This is a very common visit scenario for today’s patients: They come in for their once-a-year cold, get prescribed some medicine, and are sent on their way. And this is becoming even more common considering the availability of urgent care and retail clinics.
See the problem? Your patients, whether they’ve been with you for 10 years or 10 days, have options—especially when it comes to convenient care treatment. So if your patients can go to any doctor to receive care, how do you encourage them to stay with your practice?
This is a problem many practices aren’t even addressing. Providers will lose their patients, and payments, if they don’t take steps toward engagement and long-term, preventative care. Communicate with your patients about the benefits of being a patient at your practice. What will they get out of it in the long run?
A comprehensive, proactive health and wellness course is now easier to achieve because of the push for big data and interoperability in healthcare—regularly remind your patients that your practice is going everything it can to ensure their positive, long-term health.
These are a few of the biggest mistakes practices make that lead to issues when collecting payments. As the industry evolves, collecting from patients is becoming more complicated—but with strong policies in place, with new technology, and with patient-care strategies in place, your practice can be profitable and work toward future success, without worrying so much about your collections.
If one of your patient collection mistakes is that you're using poor technology, learn more about how to change that today. Download the eBook below to get an in-depth look at how CCOF payment software works and how it will reduce your AR.