Ensuring the collection of patient payments is becoming an ever more urgent matter for healthcare providers, many of whom report millions of dollars in unpaid medical bills.
Though regrettable, the situation is hardly surprising. Patients pay, on average, approximately 30% more in deductible and out-of-pocket costs than they did in 2015. That’s a notable upswing, large enough to spread financial discomfort around the industry.
Medical practices aren’t without options. Several options exist to help curb damaging non-payments.
1. They Manage Patient Expectations
As pointed out in Revenue Mistakes Medical Practices Make, it’s important to be proactive with patient payments. Ensure that communications — from the phone call setting the appointment to in-office signage — clearly state that payment is expected the same day medical professionals render service.
Avoiding surprise billings goes a long way to helping patients understand the payment process. Medical billing can often be complicated and difficult to figure out; taking the time up front to clarify expenses before they’re incurred can put everyone on a level playing field.
2. They Avoid Collection Agencies
One report suggests that medical practices collect on just $14 for every $100 they are owed once a collection agency gets involved. Whenever possible, then, its best to avoid going this route. Support, with training and patience, efforts by staff to collect on delinquent payments instead.
3. They Seek Ways to Make the Process Easier
In nearly every other aspect of their lives, patients have access to online accounts through which to manage their bills and payments. Consumer energy providers, heating and cooling companies, lawn care maintenance: these and many other companies allow patients to handle bills online. Medical offices? Not so much.
From Becker’s Hospital Review: “[A]lthough 85 percent of consumers’ interactions with corporations will be online by 2020, about 58 percent of providers still primarily rely on paper statements and just 13 percent currently accept mobile pay.”
4. They Might Start Using AI
Developments in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) allow revenue cycle technology to ease payment-related problems. As Healthcare Finance News puts it: “AI could be transformational in predicting denials by getting down to the reasons and then preventing the problem before it happens.”
5. They Consider Keeping a Credit Card on File
Some medical practices keep credit card information on file to make the payment process easier. While charges cannot be applied to the account without the patient’s authorization, saving both parties the trouble of providing (the patient) and entering (office billing staff) payment information speeds the process along.
This doesn’t solve all payment problems, though. Often when patients do not pay for medical care it’s because they cannot pay — having a credit card on file doesn’t change that. And there’s no getting around the risks associated with storing credit card I formation, even with a payment processor who uses the latest technology to place the payment information in a fortified virtual vault.
One More Thing They Do …
Medical practices today face more than just unpaid bills, of course. Rapid changes occurring in healthcare require them to be as agile in their operations as they are thorough in their patient treatments.
It can be a lot to handle, which is why Complete Medical Services is committed to serving healthcare professionals with consultative support that spans a complete range of services, including office operations, revenue generation, and equipment.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your office billing and much more.