According to recent research, American consumers are more likely to pay their mortgage, insurance, loans, utilities, Internet, cable TV, and even lawn care bills before paying their healthcare bills. This can present a major problem for healthcare providers who are looking to offset lapses in the patient self-pay cycle. Here are a few tips you can use to make it easier for patients to render payment and improve your medical collections process in general!
1. Enable Patients to Receive Financial Assistance Automatically
According to one study, nearly a third of all self-pay revenue written off to bad-debt collection were found to be eligible for financial assistance. With the right technology and process, front-line agents can conduct financial assistance screening as part of the new patient registration workflow. This allows a quick and automatic determination of whether a patient should be placed in a financial assistance pathway, and enhances the ability to collect payment.
2. Verify Patient Data and Identity
Half of all of the data needed to successfully bill a patient is collected at the point of access, so ensuring that the info corrected is correct is vital to an efficient collections cycle. When this data is wrong or entered incorrectly this is just one more obstacle to receiving payment.
3. Verify Eligibility
To ensure the most accurate eligibility verification, it is important to use both EDI and web-based searches. Real-time queries allow for the most current information, while scheduled batch queries provide an on-going check for changes and updates to a patient’s eligibility and coverage. Both approaches together allow for more accurate bill estimation, improved management of patient expectations, and the ability to catch updates quickly. Spending a little extra time on eligibility verification also reduces denials and rework, making the accounts receivable process more efficient.
4. Accurately Estimate the Patient’s Responsibility
Patients are far more likely to pay when they have accurate expectations about their financial responsibility for any service performed. By implementing a clear communication process to improve the likelihood of on-time bill payment, you can increase payment rates and potentially even improve patient satisfaction.
5. Set Up Payment Plans
You can take advantage of technology and propensity-to-pay rating systems to create appropriate deposit and payment schedules that work for your patients. Many organizations are even implementing retail-style collections strategies, including collecting up-front deposits, assuring that contracts clearly lay out payment expectations, and using secure storage for credit card data to enable and improve future collections.
6. Make it Easy to Collect Payment
Many healthcare organizations are using online self-pay systems to allow patients to post payments directly to the organizations accounting system. These organizations frequently report collection increases and account receivable reductions.
7. Make the Billing Process Clearer and More Simple
Eliminating any obstacles for patients to make payment is a sure-fire way to improve your collections process. This can include making statements easier to read; consolidating family payment information so that the guarantor can better manage payments; consolidating bills from lab, hospital, and physician; offering online account management and payment plans. Such strategies have resulted in a reduction in processing costs by as much as $10 per transaction.
For more information or to speak with a professional medical billing company, look no further than L J Ross Associates. Call us at 517-544-9100 and find out how you can improve your revenue cycle and accounts receivable performance!