In recent years, high-deductible plans have become more frequently seen in the patient-base in the United States. This means that these patients are responsible to pay larger amounts of their medical bills, sometimes ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 before the insurance payer will even consider paying a portion of the incurred medical costs. This, combined with decreasing payer reimbursement, means that practices need to be more diligent in collecting patient payments than ever before. With the current level of patients who are tech-savvy, moving to more automated means is an option. Additionally, educating your front office staff on collections measures will address a large part of this issue.
Here are five tips for improving collections:
In order for your front office staff to have these difficult conversations, they need to be prepared to do so. They need good information regarding the patient’s responsibility up front to collect such things as co-pays and deductibles. If your staff is aware of the difference and can explain it to the patient, they will be more successful in being able to collect these dollars. If a patient senses an air of uncertainty with the staff, they will be less likely to want to pay the money as they may feel this person does not know what they are talking about.
2. Transfer Your Revenue Cycle to the Front Office Rather than the Back Office
Staff needs to be cross trained so that each person understands not only their job, but the job of their co-workers. Also, being diligent in doing eligibility checks early and often will keep everyone aware of the patient’s insurance benefits and what the patient will actually for a visit or a procedure. It is also a good idea for front office staff to have an idea of what insurance may or may not pay on claims. This enables them to more confidently communicate why the patient owes this amount.
3. Increase Price Transparency
By helping your patients understand up front what their financial responsibilities are at the point-of-service, it can help them be more willing to participate in the payment process. It will also help the consumer if they know prior to coming into the office their co-pay and deductible amounts so that they are prepared to make that payment when it is mentioned by the front desk staff.
4. Offer Consumer-Friendly Electronic Payments
In this day and age, medicine needs to keep up with the advances in technology to collect payments from their patients. As consumers rely more on websites and phone apps to pay their bills, medical practices need to take advantage of these types of payment methods. Collection of manual payments at the point-of-service may be nearly impossible and very inefficient. It also can slow down collection times, as many times money collected over the telephone is during the limited business hours of the practice. In one study, 70% of healthcare consumers stated a preference of being able to pay electronically, while 64% would use a telephone app if available. (LaPointe, 2020) With this patient preference becoming more prevalent, it is possible that providers could face the loss of a patient if they do not implement such measures. Consumers will take their business elsewhere if they are not satisfied, and patients are consumers.
These changes can be as simple as a credit card machine able to take a payment, which can be something as simple as Square, which enables you to take payments via a cell phone or tablet. The solutions can also be complex, if you believe your organization would benefit from a portal that would not only enable patients to make payments, but, potentially could allow for appointment scheduling and the patient being able to see their Electronic Health Record (EHR) online. There are also kiosk programs that will allow the patient to do their registration on-line and pay their co-pay prior to the visit in the same manner. Also, kiosks can be used in the office in a similar manner.
5. Explore Self-pay Patient Collection Strategies
Give the patient the option to “opt-out” of their insurance coverage and offer them a self-pay option that will give them a cost savings. Some patients will choose this option, simplifying the payment collection process for both the patient and you.
Healthcare Spending Statistics
As of December 2019, the following statistics may be interesting as you plan for 2021 patient collection strategies:
In another article in Becker’s Hospital CFO Report in 2016, data was compiled from on-line surveys representing in excess of 100,000 healthcare providers, more than 3,000 and more than 2,575. Here are the study findings:
With all of these facts in play, it behooves all providers to employ measures to collect the patient portion of the payment upfront, rather than chasing the money and losing out on payment on the backend.
If you have any billing related questions, please feel free to reach out to our Training Department at 800-613-7597 Option 3.
2020 Medical Billing Statistics. (2019, December 19). MedDate. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.meddata.com/blog/2017/10/26/medical-billing-statistics/
Best Practices for Improving Patient Collections. (n.d.). Health Financial Management Association. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://www.hfma.org/topics/hfm/2018/march/59551.html
John Strasser. (n.d.). Improving Self Pay Collections: One Proactive Approach [Whitepaper]. Change Healthcare. https://doi.org/https://www.changehealthcare.com/insights/improving-self-pay-collections
LaPointe, J. (n.d.). 4 Key Ways to Boost Point-of-Service Patient Collections. RevCycle Intelligence. Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://doi.org/https://revcycleintelligence.com/news/4-key-ways-to-boost-point-of-service-patient-collections
Murphy, B. (2016, June 28). 11 key statistics about the healthcare payment market. Becker’s Hospital CFO Report. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/11-key-statistics-about-the-healthcare-payment-market.html