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How to Make Patient Collections More Efficient in a Medical Practice

September 5, 2017

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Even the most successful medical practices sometimes have problems with patient collections. Keeping payments on-time is crucial for having enough working capital to keep a clinic or medical office open. Offices can increase their successful collections by changing up the patient collections process to better accommodate a patient’s needs.

Ask Patients to Pay Up Front

According to the Camden Group, statistics show that paying up front is the best way for a doctor to get the money that is owed to them. The chance of patients paying at check-in is 90 percent. They know that they won’t be seen without paying, so many are willing to do this before meeting with the doctor. However, this rate drops to 70 percent right after the visit has been completed. The rate is even worse one month after the visit, when only 40 percent of patients will pay. 

Doctors can avoid all of these problems simply by having a policy where patients must pay upfront or they won’t be seen. 

Switch Up the Patient Statement Cycle

In a traditional patient statement cycle, billing departments send out three to five statements, one to three letters, and make one to two phone calls before sending the invoice over to a collection agency after nine to 12 months. Not only is this process extremely drawn out, but it’s a precious waste of resources. Printing all of those letters and statements won’t change the fact that the patient simply doesn’t want to or can’t afford to pay. 

Instead, doctors should try using a faster and streamlined patient statement cycle. Start with one to two statements, move to one to two letters, skip all phone calls, and hand over the account to the collection agency within three months. 

Inform Patients of What They Need to Pay

Often, it’s not that patients aren’t willing to pay – it’s just that they’re not prepared to pay. Up to 62 percent of patients were surprised by out-of-pocket costs in a 2014 TransUnion Survey. Even worse, only 25 percent of those patients were told by their doctor beforehand what their treatment cost estimate would be.

To help prevent this confusion, the billing department should always  check insurance eligibility on every patient before their visit to determine the copay or deductible. This way, offices can inform patients exactly what they need to pay during the visit to give them more time to prepare and obtain the necessary funds.

Offer Online Payment Options

Patients of the younger generation might be more likely to pay their bills through an online payment portal. This method makes it easy for patients to know exactly what they owe at any given point. Instead of waiting for an invoice to arrive in the mail, they can simply log into their account, see their balance, and pay with a credit card. 

Related Article: 5 Tips to Improve Your Practice’s Medical Billing and Collections

However, it’s vital to make sure any online payment system is secure so that it complies with HIPAA requirements. Any breach in security could put a patient’s private health information at risk. 

Create a Payment Installment Program

Especially for more expensive procedures, many patients simply can’t afford to pay a large bill all at once. To increase an office’s chances of getting any reimbursement, payment plans are a great help. A structured plan of repayment gives the patient a chance to pay their bill over time on a set schedule. Even though it takes longer to get money, it’s better than getting no money at all. 

For more help streamlining the patient collections process and getting a better payment rate, doctors’ offices can contact M-Scribe Technologies, LLC at 888-727-4234 or info@m-scribe.com. With years of experience, M-Scribe can help medical businesses enact new policies for an increased income.

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