4 Oct

From Patient to Consumer: How to Improve Patient Collections

Today patients have some of the highest deductibles and out of pocket expenses in history. Patients also typically take twice as long as insurance companies to pay on their bills, and even then, it is usually only a portion of the balance. Practices and Hospitals that can make a shift of thinking about their patients as customers, as well as patients, have a greater chance in collecting patient balances.

Be Upfront with your Patient
New patients have pages and pages of new forms to fill out upon their first visit. Many practices now send out their new patient paperwork or have it available for download from their website. This is great for saving time obtaining patient demographics and insurance information. However, consider not including your financial policy in that paperwork. Have an assigned financial counselor that can carefully go over that paperwork and help the patient understand that due to their benefits, they have a high deductible and will likely be responsible for a balance that is greater than their co-pay. This leaves less room for surprises down the road when the patient gets their first statement.

Move with the Times
Make paying their bills easier. The more a patient must pick up a phone to pay their bill, the less likely it will happen in a timely manner. Many practices and hospitals have robust patient portals. If your patient portal does not include a payment system, consider having one interfaced into it. A patient that can quickly go online and pay their bill, set up their credit card for re-occurring payments, or find their most recent statement is more likely to pay on time.

Customer Service from the Front Office to the Back Office
It seems simple. But some practices and hospitals don’t treat their patients with respect and courtesy. Think about how you want to be treated at your bank or local department store. We need to shift healthcare thinking to a similar customer service policy. From check in, to vitals, to exam, and to check out, make sure the patient has a pleasant experience along the way. The more your patient feels like a valued customer of your practice, the more they are willing to pay their bills on time.

Patient balances are more important than ever to collect to keep your practice’s revenue cycle flowing smoothly. With just a few steps, you can improve both your patient collections and patient satisfaction.

Donna White

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