5 Ways to Improve Patient Collections
Posted by Janna Vienca Cañezal
Improving your patient collections is more important than ever as patients today are expected to shoulder more of the healthcare financial burden. In recent years, patient out-of-pocket costs increased by 14%, driven by a preference for high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to save money on lower premiums. With HDHPs, patients need to pay out-of-pocket costs for healthcare services before insurance coverage kicks in.
As this trend continues to increase, patient payments will become a large part of your revenue. Practices must ensure that they receive compensation for their services, improve patient collections, and think of modern, convenient ways for patients to pay.
How Can Practices Improve Patient Collections?
In today’s consumer-driven world, simply mailing patient statements and expecting a check in return is not enough. High deductibles, confusion about insurance coverage, uncertainty about payment methods, and simply forgetting about their bills are factors that affect uncollected patient payments. All these elements influence your A/R and the overall financial health of your practice.
Fortunately, there are several ways your practice can ease a patient’s financial burden and still allow you to get the compensation you deserve.
1. Offer Flexible Payment Options
Patients today prefer to pay online and will likely pay within 48 hours of receiving a payment reminder. Providing an online portal or app where patients can view and pay their balances at the same time increases your chances of getting paid on time.
Set up payment plans to help patients who need treatment but can’t afford to pay the whole amount upfront. Automate the payment plan by storing their credit card on file and setting up a recurring reminder in your system. Offering this option gives your patients peace of mind knowing that they can pay for the treatment they need and helps you increase collections with minimal staff involvement and resources used.
Look for an EHR-integrated payment processor, like Meditab’s partnership with Global Payments Integrated (GPI), to help you streamline online payments and recurring payment plans options.
2. Provide Transparency Before Treatment
Patients who are confused by their insurance coverage or are not aware of their financial responsibilities cause payment delays, mainly because 36% of providers never address a patient’s financial responsibility before delivering care. Reduce the confusion by communicating possible out-of-pocket costs before the appointment. Discussing the patient’s financial responsibility beforehand allows them to plan for healthcare expenses and increases your likelihood of getting paid. Opening the topic of payment encourages your patients to talk about payment concerns, barriers, and options during the appointment.
Practices can use their existing appointment reminder system to inform patients about possible out-of-pocket costs before the appointment and upcoming payment due dates. You can also use online portals and apps to send post-appointment messages about the amount owed as well as care plans and follow-up instructions. Online appointment booking systems can also send potential cost reminders along with appointment confirmation emails.
Practices that do not discuss the patient’s financial responsibility are missing out on the opportunity to boost revenue.
3. Improve Patient Statement Design
Navigating the world of healthcare is confusing, including patient statements. More often than not, patient statements include medical codes and jargon that patients don’t understand, especially if there were no prior financial discussions. As a result, patients procrastinate and push the statement off, delaying your chances of getting paid.
A clear and well-designed patient statement effectively conveys what the patient owes. Patient statements must be easy to read and clearly show the amount owed, what the insurance covered, and what services were performed. Patient statement should also include payment options as well as your practice’s contact information. Use a clean layout with lots of white space for easy comprehension.
Patients are more likely to pay you if they understand how much they owe and why.
4. Train and Educate Your Staff
The job of collecting patient payments doesn’t solely rely on your billing team. While it may be tempting for your staff to simply refer a patient to your billing team or the insurance company for cost concerns, educating the rest of your staff on how to collect payments can go a long way.
Train your staff so that they can give consistent payment policies to all patients. Not all patients are familiar with the words “coinsurance” or “out-of-pocket maximum,” so ensure your staff is familiar with these common insurance terms and can explain them to your patients. Use role-play and scripts to teach them how to be comfortable and confident when asking for a payment. When a patient calls to make an appointment, train your office workers to remind patients of their copays and other deductibles. In addition, instruct front desk staff to collect payments for copays at the point of service.
Every member of your team has the potential to collect payments, so it’s your job to empower them to do so.
5. Track Patient Collection KPIs
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measures used to evaluate how well an organization meets its goals. KPIs give you a strategic view of how your practice operates, determine where your resources are used best, and show you how well you’ve improved over time.
To effectively measure your patient collection strategies and your revenue cycle performance as a whole, you should develop KPIs that fit your practice. Although what fits your practice may be different from another, you can start with HFMA’s MAP keys. MAP keys are industry-standard KPIs established by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) to track your organization’s revenue cycle performance. Some of the KPIs relating to patient collections include net days in accounts receivable (A/R) and point of sale (POS) cash collection.
Using a practice management software that tracks and generates reports for specific KPIs can help you stay organized. Choose one that’s integrated with your EHR for a smoother and more streamlined workflow.
Leverage Technology to Improve Patient Collections
Technology advancements have made it easier for providers to communicate with patients regarding their healthcare concerns, including financial responsibility. Meeting patient payment trends and demands can help you get paid quickly and allow your business to thrive in this ever-changing industry. The best way to future-proof your practice is to partner with a flexible and adaptable software EHR company.
IMS, Meditab’s core EHR, integrates with various tools to help you improve patient collections. IMS OnArrival, a self-check-in app, ensures patients settle co-pay upon check-in. Meditab’s integration with Global Payments Integrated (GPI) allows you to accept online payments and set up recurring payment plans. IMS streamlines your entire billing workflow with an integrated billing system, starting from patient registration to patient collections.
As the pandemic and other outside forces continue to affect the healthcare industry, your practice deserves to get paid for every single dollar it earns. Ensure your practice has all the tools it needs to achieve financial health. If you’d like to know how IMS can improve your patient collections, schedule a demo today.