Because patient payment responsibility has been representing more and more of your practice’s revenue, “self-pay” has understandably become a hot-button issue in medical billing. Self-pay is often much more difficult to collect, and that length of stay in accounts receivable can easily cause an upheaval in your finances.
When solving any problem it’s important to hear “both sides of the story.” So, let’s start out by looking at this from the patient’s point of view. Surveys suggest that many patients aren’t aware of their payment responsibility when they leave the office. A majority of patients would take advantage of a payment plan if one was made available, and 70 percent are interested in making payments online. These will be important things to remember when you make adjustments to your collection strategy.
To find better self-pay success, you’ll need to establish some ground rules, make use of well-designed technology platform, and get top notch effort from your entire staff. Here are some best practices for addressing your patients’ accounts as well as their health:
Create a self-pay policy that maintains clear communication about payment responsibilities and encourages better relationships with patients.
A well-designed policy will ensure that adequate support is provided for collection efforts, fees are handled consistently, and legal issues are avoided.
Keep your self-pay policy broad enough to apply to almost every patient. Consider having your patients review it and/or sign it as an agreement.
Use technology to make your self-pay efforts more efficient. For example, you can:
Employ a credit/debit card storage policy and/or get pre-authorization to bill clients immediately.
Consider accepting checks, credit cards, and HSA/FSA cards.
Provide an online patient payment portal
Make transactions in real time
Offer payment plans
Consider establishing a prepayment option
Identify and appoint leaders in this effort who have a natural ability to relate with patients, or provide your front desk staff with scripts to help them ask for payment. You could also provide incentives or opportunities for recognition to reward your staff for their self-pay achievements.
When recruiting new staff, make sure they are comfortable with or even skilled in AR collection.
These strategies will go a long way toward making self-pay less of a hassle for your practice to collect. If you are need of billing help, contact MBA Medical Business Associates to set up a consultation today. Send us an email or call (866) 622-2455.