As a Medical professional, you’re familiar with the term, “consumer-driven healthcare” but do you know the impact it’s having on your cash flow? The growing popularity of consumer-driven healthcare means patients and their payment practices are driving a significant portion of your revenue and controlling your cash flow. Deductibles, copays, and co-insurance amounts, no matter their amount, can add up to a significant loss of profit if you are not making the effort to collect them. Below are 6 best practices in medical office collections that could save your practice a huge amount of money, improve cash flow, and help you avoid having to send patient accounts to third party collections.
The “an apple a day” approach to patient collections
Medical professionals preach the practice of prevention every day when it comes to patient health, so it’s time medical offices practice what they preach when it comes to collecting patient balances on time. Here are a few ways to become more proactive in your practice and improve your A/R performance:
- Get the staff comfortable with collections – many times small copays are not collected because the staff checking patients in feels uncomfortable asking for them at the time of the patient visit or because your back-office employees are not being effective when they follow up with phone calls, emails, or letters to patients. With these out-of-pocket patient payments adding up to represent a large portion of your practice’s revenue, this is a situation that must be addressed quickly. Make sure your front office staff has the training and resources they need to be more comfortable dealing with patient collections. And for those employees who are responsible for making phone calls and other follow-up communications, using proven call scripts and email/letter templates can make the process faster and easier. Click here to use ours!
- Make your expectations known – if a customer has a large payment for a visit that they are unprepared to cover in full, what should your staff do? Do you have a policy in place for setting up payment plans? Who is responsible for following up? This is all important information that you must communicate with both your front-desk and back-office staff. It is a best practice to have this documented in the office where all staff members can access it in case they have questions; developing and maintaining a credit and collection policy is advised. Click here to access a guide to writing an effective policy.
- Educate your staff -In addition to educating your staff about your collections policy and process, ensure they are well trained and versed in the constantly changing insurance payment models so they can present your customers with professional service and accurate information. Additionally, making sure the billing process is done correctly will reduce disputes or payment delays due to confusion.
- Educate your patients – medical insurance is complex and not every customer may know what they are and are not responsible for. Make sure your staff is up front with customers, ensuring they know what is due, when it is due, and how they can pay. You may also want to post signs in the office that explain your collection procedures.
- Bill immediately, bill often – Make sure the billing process begins ASAP after a patient comes in because the longer a balance remains in A/R the less likely it is to be paid so the faster you can get a bill to customers, the better. Also be sure that regular reminders or monthly statements are going to customers to inform them of their status with your practice.
Making sure all of the above is getting done is not easy, especially with so many other important tasks that need to get done to run a successful practice. If personnel or time constraints are keeping you from putting the above best practices into place, consider an accounts receivable management software system that ensures the above steps are being taken without having to hire an additional employee. Accounts receivable management software is a popular solution for many medical and healthcare companies including physicians, chiropractors, home healthcare, and similar businesses.
- HIPAA compliant security provided through Microsoft Azure
- Customer only payments via a secured self-service portal
- The ability to exclude amounts from bills for negotiated payment on outstanding accounts
- Automate customer communications such as payment reminders or past due notices.