For many practices, it’s the same old song and dance. Repeated mailings of costly statements while they struggle to collect from patients and watch their debt grow and grow. And as the rest of the world graduates to e-statements and online payments, the healthcare industry gets left behind.
But not for long. Consumer driven healthcare is carving the way for physicians and their practices to start making money just like any other business.
Today on average, a practice coordinating and mailing its own patient statements pays approximately $1.00 a statement. That cost includes labor, supplies and postage. This may not seem like a hefty number but if you start multiplying it by the number of patients that aren’t actually paying those bills or by the number of mailed statements it takes to eventually receive a payment- the costs add-up quickly.
According to the2013 InstaMed Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report, 78 percent of providers indicated they typically mailed more than one paper statement to collect a patient payment.
And aside from the percentage of patients who aren’t paying as a result of financial hardship, the fact that many healthcare practitioners are still relying solely on paper-based billing processes creates its own challenges.
From cable bills, to electric bills, to car payments, almost every billed commodity offers customers the option of having their bills or statements emailed to them or electronically submitted as opposed to being sent via snail mail.
This option is not only a better choice for the environment, but it also saves businesses money in the long run – and healthcare is no different.
Not to mention the convenience factor. According to InstaMed’s study, “If given the option of various methods to pay their healthcare bills, 79 percent of consumers indicated that they would pay online through their provider or health plan website, and 49 percent indicated that they would pay online through their bank’s bill pay portal.”
When a patient receives their bill in the mail, they are not only able to simply click on a link and pay on demand – but in many cases can securely store their account information to pay next time without having to re-enter.
Practices can offer patients participating in e-statement programs special incentives to pay online and the risk of identity theft is greatly reduced by giving thieves less of an opportunity to intercept mail.
It’s time for the healthcare collections process to join the 21st century. Sure there are patient’s that are still interested in receiving their bills in the mail. But for efficiency, economics and patient satisfaction, it’s time to forego the high cost of patient statements.