To improve practice workflow and increase collections, practitioners must have a solid patient payment strategy. Since the pandemic, the amount of unpaid medical debt in the US has increased. With these mounting unpaid bills, many hospitals need help managing their cash flow to pay medical staff, suppliers, rent, and other expenses connected with running a medical practice. In 2021, the outstanding medical debt owed by Americans will be a staggering $140 billion.
Therefore, healthcare organizations must take the initiative to collect from patients to avoid being overburdened with past-due accounts and bad debts. The patient collection is a delicate process; getting it wrong can cost you money and damage your reputation. Therefore, a medical firm needs an efficient patient payment strategy to maximize medical billing collections, streamline workflow and enhance their financial analytics.
When it comes to collecting patient copays and deductibles, medical practices are targeted. They must collect patient cost-sharing amounts through their contracts with payers, but patients are also being hit with astronomical medical bills.
1. Staff Training
It all begins with the gathering of incomplete or incorrect financial data. We hear everything, like
- No one verified benefits
- Data entry errors
- The schedulers needed the right information when they scheduled the visit.
All of these issues may be a sign that employers must properly train employees and keep track of their progress, which will likely result in problem accounts and rising A/R.
Advise your frontline staff, if required, additionally train them about revenue cycle management (RCM) solution, and hold each individual accountable to a set standard. It’s crucial to assess workflow and determine the kind of workload that each employee can handle while still delivering high-quality results. When it comes to annual performance reviews, this performance component should be considered.
2. Information Gathering
It should be more than just new patients subject to accurate demographic and financial information collection. At every visit, update the patient’s information and insurance details in electronic health records software. Hold a staff member responsible if they fail to follow through.
This chart can be used to direct your staff in asking the right questions and gathering the appropriate information before each patient visit or when scheduling appointments.
3. Due Balance
Monitoring patients with past-due balances but continue seeking additional services can be a headache for practices. The fact that patients who don’t pay show up for extra care and rack up larger balances that will be even harder to collect needs to be clarified for the staff. Establish a procedure whereby accounts are checked the day before a patient visit; if there are outstanding patient balances, decide on the processes to support payment.
When you call the patient with a reminder a day or two before the appointment, follow up by reminding them once more through an automated practice management system. There should be no justification for the patient’s unwillingness to pay. Your staff’s responsibility is to “enquire” the patient to pay when they arrive at the practice.
4. Decreased Payment Options
Don’t limit yourself to only accepting money. Give patients more payment options and exercise some flexibility; this will help boost your practice’s medical billing. Nowadays, most transactions are completed using credit or debit cards. So that clients can pay right away, keep a card reader at the front desk. Cash payments may be required to satisfy some patients. Therefore, you can help them by installing an ATM at your business.
5. Payment Inconsistencies
To prevent payment misunderstandings or inconsistencies in the future, create a financial policy for your practice and inform your patients of it. The policy should be thorough and cover topics relevant to your practice specialty and patients. For all non-covered services, specify the patient’s obligations in detail.
6. Payment Backlogs
Make a list of all the patients with significant payment backlogs by checking your EHR beforehand. A medical practice management system and integrated EHR can help you with this. The plan and patient balance can be seen on the scheduling screen in real-time with good software. Make it a habit to check this data so you can be aware of patients who are having trouble paying, especially for expensive procedures and services.
7. Revenue Analytics
Not analyzing collection performance can cause a lot of trouble. Too frequently, staff members are preoccupied with finishing the billing and submitting the claims, leaving little time for them to follow up on unpaid accounts, assess the practice’s financial health, and increase collections.
Reviewing month-end reports and assessing collection performance regularly is necessary for monitoring overall performance with financial analytics. Some reports will show patterns and guide you in determining where issues are looming like:
- Unresolved Claims
- Age-related Reports
- Age by Payer Class
- Reports on Patient Balances
- Reports on Payer Performance
8. Delayed Follow-up
The likelihood of non-payment will increase with delayed follow-up. Send the bill to the patient’s patient portal when they leave the office. Email a reminder and give them a call. Keep your options open when deciding whether to keep medical billing in-house or outsource it to a medical billing company.
Outsourcing your billing might be more economical if you need more or more competent billing staff. Most billing companies handle patient payments by responding to patient billing inquiries, checking in with your patients regarding outstanding balances, and, with your permission, even sending them to collection agencies.
Another challenge for your office management staff may be keeping up with modern technological system updates. A small medical practice’s staff frequently has to serve in multiple roles. Why not let the experts handle payment collection instead of making their job even more challenging?
It can be difficult to collect patient payments, especially for small businesses. Many medical practices use a reliable system for medical coding and billing. Private clinics can concentrate their time and efforts on helping their patients. And it guarantees that payments and records are always up to date.