The increasing number of high-deductible plans has resulted in higher medical bills that many patients are unable to pay. This problem is unlikely to resolve itself soon as patients are faced with making higher co-pays for an office visit or paying out-of-pocket. This trend means that medical practices need to give high priority to improving their success rate in collecting on these bills. This post discusses six ways you can improve your practice’s collections on medical bills.
1. Train Front-desk Staff About Patient Boarding
Your front-desk staff must be trained to collect payments from patients and verify their insurance coverage before they see you. Staff members should inform patients of any balance they’re carrying and explain the available payment options. Your staff should also make it clear to your patients that they’re expected to pay their balance before their next appointment. Scripts that tell staff members exactly what to say can make them more comfortable in dealing with overdue accounts. It’s also vital that your staff always remain courteous and respectful, regardless of the number of times they contact the same patient about an unpaid bill.
2. Make Transparent Payment Policies
Patients are often blindsided by medical bills they haven’t included in their budget, which is one of the biggest reasons that healthcare providers have such difficulty in collecting payments. It’s especially important for medical practices to inform patients of the exact cost of a procedure so they can determine if they can afford it. Transparency also means that your waiting room needs signs that clearly state your payment policy.
3. Make Payments Processing Easy
Payments should be as easy as possible, which includes maximizing payment options. Practices that accept credit cards and online payments will almost certainly have higher collections rates than those that don’t. Online payments also offer the advantage of attracting more patients to your portal, which will eventually help you satisfy your meaningful use requirements for the website. Patients with large bills probably won’t be able to pay it all at once, so you should consider offering payment plans.
4. Track Collection Results Regularly
Tracking and managing the results of your efforts is essential for improving your collections rate. Not every strategy is right for every practice, so you should review your collections each month during a financial meeting to determine which methods are working. It’s also standard practice to contact patients each month about overdue bills. However, you should consider doing so once per week if your staff can handle it, as regular contact can often convince many patients to pay their bill. An incentive program can also keep your staff motivated to perform this often unpleasant task.
5. Manage Billing Software
Collections are more difficult than they need to be if you’re not using billing software. This software is available as a standalone product, although it’s often included in comprehensive practice management solutions. These solutions can perform many functions that can streamline
the administration of your practice, including identifying patients who are behind in their payments, tracking past due bills and automating late fees. A comprehensive solution will cost more, but it will also reduce the resources needed for billing and increase your collection rate.
6. Partner with a Medical Billing Service
A practice’s unpaid bills will eventually be sent to a third-party collection agency, which will take a percentage of any payments that it collects. You should therefore consider using a medical billing service to work on your behalf since you’ll be paying to collect these debts anyway. This arrangement allows you to increase your revenue while focusing on your patients.
M-Scribe Technologies, LLC is a national leader in billing, auditing and coding. Call us today at 770-666-0470 or email me at email@example.com for a free assessment of your practice’s needs.