Direct payments from patients account for a significant portion of healthcare practice revenues. But many patients face difficult financial challenges, especially when it comes to medical expenses and insurance payments. Of course healthcare providers need to collect on invoices, otherwise their own financial well being is at risk.
These issues can also put a strain on patient-provider relationships, doing potential harm to both the practice and the patients it serves. Fortunately, there are compassionate and effective ways to solve the dilemma – while making healthcare practices run more smoothly and profitably.
Communicate Costs Up Front
Patients often have no idea what their total payments will be, until the bills arrive and catch them off guard. Ease their confusion, stress, and frustration by taking two important steps.
First, verify their insurance coverage eligibility, a task that can be automated using appropriate software solutions. Knowing that the insurer is responsible for payment makes collection more efficient. Such vigilance also ensures that the provider doesn’t adversely affect the patient relationship, by mistakenly sending them bills that should instead be going to insurers.
Next, provide patients with an estimate of their total financial responsibility. Such up-front transparency helps them plan for repayment ahead of time. That also helps to clarify for the patient that they are expected to make a full, not a partial payment. Such policies protect the healthcare provider from payment defaults, and help to minimize the volume of outstanding balances.
In the past, those two strategic steps may have added an unwelcome administrative burden. But now they can be accomplished quickly, easily, and affordably. Just use an automated software billing solution that offers an integrated patient estimator tool, combined with immediate and automated insurance eligibility verification.
Send Statements Promptly and Frequently
Research from the Healthcare Business Management Association revealed that collection success is more than 70 percent higher when the patient repays within the first 90 days. So billing right away, instead of waiting until the end of the month, pays dividends for healthcare providers.
Sending statements every 15 days, versus every 30 days, is another tactic that can prompt the patient to pay sooner rather than later. Despite the fact that billing statements traditionally arrive once a month, it’s prudent for healthcare practices to send them more frequently. That simple strategy has the potential to slash collection times by 50 percent or more.
Track accounts receivable using a customizable reporting system, to maximize collections and enhance billing and payment organization and reconciliation. There are highly-secure payment information systems that will generate reports across multiple healthcare facilities for any set timeline. They can be conveniently color coded, uniquely formatted, and instantly accessed.
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Offer Manageable Repayment Options
One of the most effective ways to facilitate faster and more consistent payments is to offer patients easier ways to pay. An online payment portal, designed around a provider’s billing policies, can offer convenience, simplicity, and online security. There are HIPAA and PCI compliant systems, with credit card data encryption and tokenization, that are easy to establish with no additional IT infrastructure.
Another valuable revenue-capturing tool, particularly for patients who may need more time to pay off larger balances, is patient payment financing. The healthcare practice can pre-qualify patients for preapproved financing plan, and those plan options can be integrated into the online payment portal system.