Home » Blog Articles » Healthcare Trends » Healthcare Provider Advice: How to Improve Patient Collections

Patient collections are sometimes a major pain point for healthcare providers. People increasingly possess a consumer mindset when seeking medical treatment. Patients expect more price transparency and a better understanding of what they are financially responsible to pay.

Clinicians and office managers can make positive changes that reduce patient financial concerns, while also increasing the amount of collections. The modern consumer-driven healthcare model encourages patients to know more about what they are required to pay. Individuals now have higher insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses which generates stress.

Due to this fact, clinics and practices need to reflect on a patient’s overall experience. This means not only looking at the quality of treatments delivered, but also examining their patient’s financial experience as a consumer of healthcare services. If medical practices can better communicate these financial requirements, their patients will have an overall better clinical experience.

Better Communication:

At the early stages of contact, medical practices should provide easy to understand cost estimates and payment procedures. This act alone can greatly streamline the process and establish a good relationship with patients. For example, patients not showing up for scheduled appointments can create problems for medical offices. Time and resources are wasted, while healthcare office managers are frustrated by the no-shows.

Healthcare staff need to directly contact the patients and remind them of their scheduled appointment. The method of contact should include email, text and phone. During this communication process, it is an excellent time to briefly explain the financial responsibilities of deductibles and copayments.

The goal is to give patients a chance to ask questions and not be surprised by any unexpected medical billings. Also, patients will have the opportunity to ask questions and directly contact their insurance provider. The hope is that they will verify what is covered by their insurance plan so that there are no expected charges.

These unforeseen healthcare costs are what can create angry situations where the patient resents the medical center. Advertising is already a challenge for many healthcare practices. Creating upset patients will only make this task more difficult.

The earlier a medical practice or similar healthcare provider can present their payment policy, the less chance there is for confusion. These policies should be done in a tasteful and professional manner that provides some level of financial transparency.

Utilize Newer Technological Tools:

The number of digital tools that healthcare providers have access to is truly amazing. The growing use of online bill pay, and other payment processing technology, allows financial transactions to more easily take place. Security is always a concern, but there are protocols that can be implemented which minimize this threat.

Patient collection rates can improve if medical practices fully leverage these new technologies. For example,

if medical offices started storing their patients credit card information, they would likely improve patient collection rates. However, the patient management system that is used, needs to have the capability to securely store this data in a way that is fully HIPAA compliant.

In another example, offices should use text and email notifications to send friendly and professional payment reminders. These can be included in other post-appointment office communications.

Patients already likely receive their EOB through email or an online portal. They are already familiar with making online purchase and similar transactions. Online bill pay technology streamlines the overall process and reduces the occurrence of mistakes.

Too Much Work?

Some medical office staff members may feel that the previously mentioned strategies are too labor intensive. Healthcare offices are already dealing with EHR issues, reimbursement problems, potential insurance takebacks, etc. This is just once more thing to do on an already long list of tasks.

Delivering great patient care includes price structures that are clear and as are easy as possible to understand. There is a demand for this type of healthcare experience, which companies such as Walmart have started to capitalize on.

Reluctant clinicians and staff members should be reminded that a practice’s revenue growth strategy needs to include a logical and successful way to increase patient collections. In general, strategies that are flexible and provide patients with options, will likely produce the best results.

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