Today, the world revolves around convenience. Enticing new patients, keeping old ones, and ensuring that all patients pay their bills are just three facets of your practice that could benefit—and might already have—from the added ‘umph’ of convenience. Undeniably, quality of care plays a huge role in any medical practice, but convenience is the line in the sand—will your practice be good, or can you make it great?
A well-established way to provide convenience, particularly for accounts receivables and revenue cycle management, is through a Credit Card on File System (CCOF). By storing the patient’s preferred card information on file, your practice can easily and quickly collect on copays, deductibles, non-covered services, and other balances. The accessibility of payment information can also allow you more flexibility to work with patients on payment arrangements—which can be very beneficial for both your patients and your practice in today’s healthcare market.
Below are a few ways to make CCOF’s work for your practice:
Set the expectations from the start.
As part of new patient counseling, offer the CCOF option and let them know the benefits and potential uses. Patients can prepay co-pays and quickly make payments over the phone using a CCOF system, without having to juggle their card and read it off for every payment. I know I’ve made many a payment over the phone while driving due to a CCOF system, making it the most convenient option in my personal experience for keeping my bills up to date. And sometimes, with the crazy lives we lead, a couple of minutes over the phone is all we have to even discuss making payments—so it’s best to make it as easy as possible.
Use as a fallback when the unexpected happens.
Unfortunately, claim denials are a part of the medical industry—a very annoying part, but an unavoidable one nonetheless. Again, as part of payment counseling, make patients aware of the possibility of denial and the need for resubmission. In some cases, even with automated eligibility verification and preliminary insurance verifications, some claims are not paid as expected. In these cases, it’s easy to call the patient and set up a plan when the card is already on file. You can set up automated arrangements and a realistic agreement that both patients and the practice will benefit from.
Help your patients by offering a little flexibility when necessary.
Life throws up many roadblocks and challenges. With today’s healthcare environment, many patients have some kind of insurance, but sometimes the coverage isn’t ideal and sometimes coverage lapses for whatever reason. I personally struggled last year with my son’s coverage due to misunderstandings and lapsed coverage through his father. While trying to resolve the issue, he needed to visit his primary care doctor for a shot or he couldn’t continue with school. Fortunately, his primary care physician was able to work with me to cover the cost for the visit and it’s made me even more loyal to the practice, because they did not turn me away when I needed the assistance the most. If your practice can do the same, utilizing the CCOF, it could offer great benefits to your patients and your practice, by allowing your practice to set up payment arrangements—using good judgement on the patients and due diligence, of course. Automated payments and an eligible card on file can offer you the security you need to feel confident making arrangements—and you can feel better knowing that you’ve helped your patients when they really needed it.
Setting up a CCOF system can offer many benefits to your practice, but one word of warning: do it right. Having a patient’s credit card on file requires permission from the patient, and using that card for charges also requires the patient’s knowledge and agreement. Effectively utilizing a CCOF means practicing good business ethics and protecting your patient’s interests as well as your own.
Additionally, good revenue cycle management still requires a good system of accounts receivables and regular patient contact. An assigned professional should be handling all claim denials and conducting automated verification eligibility up-front to ensure that no roadblocks will crop up along the way and undo the good that an effective CCOF system can bring.
The road to efficient revenue cycle management is a bumpy one, but an effective CCOF system can give your practice a few more options—the kind that mean a better bottom line and happier patients.