Doctors have a special place in society as trusted caretakers of our well-being.
While there is an idealism projected upon practitioners, medical practices are a business like any other. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain revenue streams, not only to benefit the practice, but to ensure you can continue to provide optimal health services for many years to come.
Employer health insurance deductibles continue to climb, leaving more of the financial burden on patients and increasing the risk that they won’t be able to meet their financial obligations. According to ACA International, $45.9 billion in uncompensated care was provided by U.S. hospitals in 2012. That same year, 75 million people were paying off medical debt or said they were having problems paying their medical bills. While you only have so much under your control, there are measures you can take to improve your patient collections.
Direct Patient Contact
There’s not much people hate more than debt collectors. It may not always be an easy and pleasant experience, but if you approach it politely, a simple phone call reminding patients about their outstanding balance can be very effective.
It may seem simple enough, but most medical practices don’t even try calling patients. According to one estimate, it’s as high as 75 percent of practices that don’t pick up the phone! The key is to handle the conversation delicately and take notes from the conversation to keep on file for future reference.
Give Patients More Options
If patients are struggling to keep up with their financial obligations, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to meet those obligations.
Online payments - A study from Javelin Strategy & Research states that by 2018, 89 percent of consumers will use online banking. So, offer all reasonable payment methods, including a web payment portal.
Consider offering a “credit card on file” program - Secure third party vendors can keep patient credit cards on file, which can be automatically drawn from to make payments.
Offer Payment Plans
Given that more of the financial burden now falls on the patient, there is an increased chance that they won’t be able to meet that obligation in just one payment. Many medical practices are quite aware of this, and thus offer the convenience of paying in installments.
Offer payment plans that are accompanied by written and signed agreements on how they will be implemented. Give patients enough time to comfortably meet their obligations, but not so long that it increases your risk of them defaulting.
Provide Staff Incentives
The keys to improved collections don’t all lie in adjusting your patient interactions. Consider ways to incentivize your office staff. While incentives generally involve more cash outlay, it will be countered by the increased revenue brought in as a result of the program.
There is nothing fun about collections, but if you take a creative approach and consider various options to improve your methods, it can be done more effectively and increase revenue for your practice.
Guide: Accountable Care Organizations
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