Effective patient payment collection is increasingly important to the fiscal health of every healthcare organization, from the small provider to the large hospital. But as out-of-pocket expenses continue to rise, it becomes increasingly harder to collect those patient payments.
To improve their bottom line, providers must adopt transparent patient payment processing strategies.
Today’s patients are better defined as “healthcare consumers”. These consumers expect to receive the same level of great customer service, transparency, and convenience that they experience from many of their favorite brands.
The good news is that providers can utilize the same strategies as major retail brands to win customers and create a loyal patient base. In fact, these strategies have provided excellent results for practices that have already adopted them.
Where do you start? The easiest place to start is to assess your practice’s level of transparency. Identify areas of operations or policies that can be improved to be more transparent for your patients.
Transparency: The Key To Collecting Patient Payments
For patients, co-pays and deductibles have risen to such a point that their out-of-pocket expenses are now a major expenditure. They need their healthcare providers to work with them in ways that make budgeting their medical expenses simpler and more convenient. This means that transparency will be a huge consideration as they choose their physicians.
Here are 3 easy tools and processes to utilize to be more transparent in patient billing:
1. Patient Eligibility Verification
Patient eligibility verification allows your front desk to determine an estimate for the patient’s out-of-pocket expenses prior to their visit. With this technology, your practice can work with patients in advance to set up a payment schedule that works best for their budget.
The key to successfully use eligibility verification and cost estimation tools is communication. Communicate the expected costs to patients upfront to increase the chances of being paid.
2. Card on File
Card on file technology allows your practice to store patient credit card information securely to recall and apply payment at a later date–often after the EOB has been processed. Patients can work with the practice to set a payment schedule.
To successfully store and process patient financial information, you must work with your payment processor to ensure you are set up for recurring billing. Recurring billing capabilities save your staff the time it would take to track down and process payments, and will ultimately enable your practice to collect more.
This also allows patients the convenience of not having to bring payment with them to each visit – the information is already stored to be directly withdrawn.
3. Point of Service Payment
Many practices are adopting a point of service payment protocol. This means that patients are charged their co-pay and balance at the time of the scheduled appointment. In the event that the insurance portion of payment is higher than the estimate, the patient can be reimbursed the balance. If the insurance pays less than the estimated amount, the patient can be billed the balance.
Again, ensure that your point of service payment terminal is up-to-date and secure.
These three tools are a win-win for both physician and patient as they allow transparent, open communication about financial responsibility.
Constant Communication Enables Transparency
For today’s healthcare consumers, it’s important that communication remains open and easily accessible, like on platforms that patients use often and are accustomed to. This may mean sending reminders via text or email, with links to payment portals. Some patients may prefer to be contacted via phone, and many may prefer logging into a web portal where all of the information, from setting appointments to paying their balance, is readily available to them on their own schedule.
As your practice looks to redefine business strategies in the new year, it’s important to look at how these will work from the patient’s perspective. With a larger financial responsibility for healthcare-related bills, your patients will be more careful about what their treatment entails and how much each visit will cost them. The more transparent your practice is about the costs of service and the best options available to patients from both a financial and healthcare standpoint, the more likely patients are to pay their bills upfront, in full, and on time.