19 Nov Collection Techniques to Increase Patient Payments
The average physician spends around 12 percent of his or her gross revenue on processing medical claims and collecting money for services and supplies rendered, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). There are numerous ways to reduce these costs and get paid faster. In today’s ever-changing healthcare environment, physicians deal with high deductible insurance plans, increased healthcare costs, expensive supplies, costly staff, hefty budgets, and reduced fess. These components collectively contribute to loss medical practice revenue. Learn new collection techniques to increase patient payments so your practice continues to thrive in this economy.
Educate and include all Office Personnel
The services rendered to a patient involve numerous office staff members, from the front desk receptionist to the providers. All healthcare workers are important to maintain a healthy cash flow for the office. This is why it is necessary for all staff members to be educated on why collection of payment is needed at the time of service. Rather than sending out bills and attempting to collect balances, the revenue cycle is accelerated by collecting while the patient is there.
Collect at the Time of Service
The AMA reports that the most effective physician practices collect the full amount of the payment at the time of service. This includes past due balances, co-pays, deductibles, and other charges. By collecting at the time of service, there is a reduction in patient statement fees, accounts receivable balances, and collection agency charges. The practice manager should institute a series of policies and methods to ensure that the front desk staff members make every attempt to collect monies owed to the organization.
Prepare Office Personnel
The staff members should be adequately trained in billing and collections for an efficient office. They must be prepared to request and obtain payments from patients, also. One easy way to do this is to have them use a scripted approach, by saying: “Your fee today is $85.00. Would you like to pay with cash, check, debit card, or credit card?” Any patients who have outstanding balances should meet with one of the billing professionals to arrange a payment schedule.
Don’t Be the Collector
The physician should not be the one to discuss outstanding balances and payments. The office staff should handle this responsibility, which is overseen by the office manager. The providers should direct patients to the front desk, and these matters should not be mentioned in front of other patients. The physician can use a scripted approach by saying: “Please discuss payment with my offices staff. They will be glad to help you.” This approach allows the physician to distance himself or herself from the collection process.
Use a Payment Log
The office staff should have some type of payment log for those patients who owe outstanding balances. This log should contain all information relevant to the patient, such as personal information, dates of services, and amount owed to the organization. If a contract exists regarding payment, that should be kept with the log as a promise of payment.
Make Collection Policies Known
All policies and guidelines related to collections should be posted somewhere at the front desk or in the reception area. This way, patients can see the rules and policies regarding payment to the organization, and they will understand that they apply to everyone, not just select people. This makes it a fair and just process. Also, office personnel who are responsible to collect monies should meet with the office manager and/or physician(s) to discuss any account status of patients who are scheduled. The provider can give insight into collections at many incidences.