Doctors and medical practitioners have seen a huge change in the way their practices obtain revenue, as the Affordable Care Act has become the law of the land.
Where in the past practices received most of their revenue from insurance companies, today, patients are forking over more to cover the costs of procedures and visits. That means that healthcare companies have had to also boost their collection efforts. A medical publication shared a number of tips for healthcare professionals to help boost their collection rates.
Companies should develop financial policies and collection policies, to make it clear to patients about their expectations when it comes to meeting their financial obligations.
A financial policy would outline the financial responsibilities of patients — mainly that they must be pay their bills.
A collections policy would detail the steps to be taken by a medical office in the event patients do not pay their bills. The decision can not be “left up to whoever is sitting at the reception desk on any given day, you will have inconsistent collection practices and could waste significant staff time seeking guidance from the physician or practice manager.”
Timing also matters when it comes to discussing finances. Patients are visiting a doctor’s office because they are sick or recovering. Talking to them immediately about financial obligations and missed payments can cause added stress to an already stressful situation.
To alleviate these problems, medical organizations should have a high level of transparency when it comes to communicating the financial expectations for patients.
Letting patients know upfront that your practice expects payment at the time of service or a commitment to pay, not only shows your patients that you respect them, but empowers staff to do their job without feeling bad.
Offices should also develop “collection scripts” that help staff know exactly what to say when talking to a patient.
Despite greater and more variable costs, you as the physician are providing a service, and like most other industries, payment or a commitment to a payment plan is expected at the time of service.
More offices are also starting to store credit card information for patients in their files.
There is the ability to securely store credit card information in an encrypted format offsite; the ability to automatically charge the credit card once the insurance has paid its share; and eliminating the need to send paper billing statements. It is also kinder to patients because the practice has already discussed payment upfront.