Healthcare front offices are a hive of nonstop, vitally important activity. Reception duties, appointment scheduling, coding and billing, and collection of patient information are just a few of the critical responsibilities shouldered by front office personnel. But when the front office staff is overwhelmed, the whole practice suffers.
Billing headaches increase. Collection costs rise. Cash flow deteriorates. Revenues evaporate. But there are three key ways that technology can cure all of these vexing and chronic problems, simply and affordably. That’s because it’s now possible to fully automate the most burdensome tasks of insurance verification, payment processing, and generation of invoices and monthly statements.
Especially these days, one of the most labor intensive hassles is doing eligibility verification for insurance reimbursement. Without verification, patients don’t have a realistic idea what they owe or how to plan to repay those obligations. But making phones calls and chasing down insurance information to do accurate verification is incredibly time consuming and inefficient. Oftentimes data on file is outdated or incorrect. Practices can waste many hours trying to collect from pestered patients, only to find out that it was the insurance company’s responsibility to make the payment.
Software systems to perform that work are the answer, because they automatically conduct verification while making billing more transparent and understandable. Batch requests can be processed overnight, for example, and eligibility information can be securely accessed and viewed 24/7. Patients appreciate the convenience, and front office staff are free to focus on more pressing and valuable issues, like quality of care.
Healthcare front offices can also significantly improve both collections and customer retention rates by offering patients the option of automated and personalized payment plans. Secure HIPAA and PCI compliant online payment platforms can accept virtually every form of payment, 24 hours a day, while facilitating both recurring and installment payments. Patients enjoy the convenience and financial flexibility, and 65% of those surveyed would consider switching healthcare providers if it meant an improved payment experience.
Meanwhile, healthcare practices minimize payment cycle delays and reduce the need for costly collections. They also save money on every transaction, according to a CAQH index report. It revealed that electronic transactions can save a practice $3 each time they are processed, compared to doing the same tasks manually. That’s easy money to add to the bottom line, while making life considerably easier for the front office.
Electronic bills and monthly statements are also less costly and more efficient. Perhaps more importantly, they address one of the biggest concerns that more than 90 percent of patients and providers share, which is security. Unfortunately, paper statements lack the security protocols of a cloud-based digital system.
Paper statements are labor intensive, bulky, and difficult to archive and safeguard for privacy and regulatory compliance. They also annoy patients who are accustomed to viewing statements and paying bills online in an e-commerce world. No wonder nearly 70 percent of patients prefer to pay their healthcare bills electronically, as confirmed by a 2017 InstaMed report.
Healthcare payment processing technology may not be able to fix the toner in the copy machine or add paper to the computer printer. But it could potentially eliminate those tasks from the front office workload altogether, through intelligent automation.