Revenue is an ongoing issue for most medical practices these days; it's become painfully obvious to many administrators that the reliable stream of third-party revenue is gradually shrinking in favor of more patient payments in the form of higher copayments and deductibles. In a previous blog post, we shared some tips for improving your window collections to jump start the process.
But window collections are just a part of the patient payment cycle. After all, it's far more common today than in years past for a patient to have such as high deductible, the entire cost of a visit and ensuing treatment is the patient's responsibility. These costs can easily run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars if extra services such as laboratory and imaging are involved. Many patients may be unable to pay their bill in full at the time of service—and that's where the collections process often breaks down.
With that said, here are four tips to help you address that problem.
Offer realistic payment plans.
Many practices are turned off to the practice of accepting payment plans, but they can be a huge collections boost to your practice. Imagine receiving a medical bill for $1,000 due in 30 days. If you don't have the resources available to settle the bill, you may be tempted to push it aside—and maybe even forego needed follow-up care because you can't afford it.
Now imagine receiving that same bill with an option for paying in four, six, or even 12-month installments. Which bill is more likely to be paid? Which patient is more likely to stay with your practice and maintain an ongoing relationship?
The key to a successful payment plan system is to make it easy and convenient for the patient to enroll in one—offer realistic payment options for patients of different income situations and different methods of accepting payments that are convenient for the patient. Which brings me to my next tip...
Implement your online patient payment portal.
Most EHRs offer patient portals to comply with Meaningful Use requirements, so put them to work as an online payment system to benefit your patients and your practice. There really is no more convenient option for patients, because they can review their bill at their convenience, accept or set up a payment plan, and make payments using a debit or credit card without any additional input from your staff. That's a win-win that you can implement fairly easily.
Related Article: How to Maximize Collections from Patients
Offer pay by phone using ACH or credit/debit cards.
If you have a patient mix that includes a lot of less tech-savvy individuals who won't use an online portal, a pay-by-phone option may increase your collections considerably. You don't need to use up staff time taking phone payments, either. There are many third-party automated phone payment solutions available that are quite cost effective. That's another advantage to small to mid-size practices for outsourcing medical billing, as well, since pay-by-phone is often included in their services.
Ask patients to keep a credit card on file as part of the registration process.
This is one of the most effective ways to improve overall collections and ensure compliance once a payment plan has been accepted. If patients hesitate about putting a card on file, offer incentives such as "preferred patient" status where they get prime appointment times, a gift bag, or even a small discount to encourage participation. Be sure your patient paperwork includes your policies for using the card on file and authorizes its use before you implement a card-on-file system, however, to avoid any problems down the road.
If your practice is struggling with patient collections, M-Scribe has solutions to help you streamline your billing processes and improve your bottom line. Contact us today for a free consultation.