According to a MGMA–Medical Group Management Association report, physicians will send an average of 3.3 billing statements before a patient’s outstanding balance is paid in full. The trickiest conversation a practice has is that of collecting patient balances.
The delay may have multiple causes, such as:
- Practices’ reluctance to talk to patients about money
- Physicians’ refusal to enforce payment policies with longtime patients or those who are going through financial hardships
- Ineffective patient collection policies, possibly because they’re focused on payers
- Outdated billing and payment systems
However, with copays and deductibles creeping upward and people paying more for the care they receive, payments from patients will become a larger percentage of your practice’s total revenue. Effective patient collections are imperative to your practice, so the goal should be to collect 100% of copays and deductibles. There are ways to get closer to that ideal:
- Adopt a “no-copay-no-visit” policy, and get the word out on your website, portal, appointment reminders, etc.
- Make it stick—reschedule all but acutely ill patients who arrive without payment.
- Track your staff’s collection rates through daily reports that detail payments and reasons copays weren’t collected.
- Identify your employees who are good at collecting patient payments, and have other employees observe the techniques that are effective.
- Know how much a patient owes. Some patients may not know what to pay, especially if they’ve changed health plans due to a change in employment.
- Adopt online bill-payment
According to several surveys, 75% of Americans who use the internet pay most of their bills online, but the medical industry has been slow to offer these services to patients. There are fully integrated systems that provide patients a summary of billing and services—the best systems integrate with the practice management system or other business intelligence software.
Collecting 100% of outstanding patient care costs can be difficult, so make sure patients know what steps your practice will take to collect debts, including reporting past due accounts to credit bureaus. TheHealthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) recommends that if a practice reports an account, the practice or its business affiliate should also report to the bureau when the issue is resolved. This way, the patient is not penalized beyond resolution of the account.
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Last Updated on April 8, 2016