High deductible plans are becoming more and more commonplace, in both employee-supplied health insurance plans as well as individually-bought plans. On top of the increase in self-pay patients, hospitals are experiencing greater financial strife as patients struggle to pay their medical expenses. Taking a look at your revenue cycle and learning what’s missing from your collections process (and fixing resulting the issues) is crucial to bringing in the revenue you’re owed. Here are a few key things that might be missing from your collections process…and how to correct them.
#1. Collecting Upfront
If you’re like many practices, co-pays and bills are not addressed until after services have been rendered. This can often result in your patients taking the bill and saying that they will pay it later, being without the proper funds at the time.
Instead of waiting until the end of the visit to collect, consider moving the time of payment to before treatment is given. When your patients come in for their visit, request payment then. Before they even step foot through the door, you may even want to consider reminding them about their co-pays, or the total cost of the visit, when the office calls to confirm their appointments.
#2. Installing a Policy and Sticking to It
Create a document that clearly states your hospital’s collections process. Give it to all of your staff members. This way, there is no confusion about how payments should be collected from patients. A written document can help prevent employees from letting patients go without making a payment. Make sure these rules are understood with thorough training, not just for your new hires, but for your current employees as well. Consistency is important if you want to see your bottom line improve.
#3. Paying Online
Making payments can be a hassle. In the most traditional way of paying bills, patients have to write out a check and mail it in. While it seems like a simple concept, many people lose track of time and forget to write the check or don’t get it to the mailbox. Making payments over the phone is a convenient method, but trying to make a phone call during normal business hours can be difficult if your patients are working all day.
A newer way to allow your patients to make payments is online. Most of your patients spend a good deal of time on the computer anyway, and paying online is quick, easy and convenient. It’s also a great way for patients to be able to access their bill at any time. Consider building a patient portal to give your patients a single hub for their medical bills, records, etc. They’ll repay you by consistently paying their bills on time and in full.
Trying to collect payments while giving your full attention to your patients, providing them with the quality and expert care they deserve, can be difficult. Third party vendors allow you to stay focused on your patients while they worry about contacting patients and working with them to come up with a payment plan. They can also help self-pay patients who qualify apply for assistance programs, such as Medicaid.
If your collections process is missing any of these steps, it’s time to reassess and start patching up the holes. By doing so, you’ll see an improved revenue cycle starting from your very first interaction with your patients.