With rising costs in today’s medical practice, it’s becoming more important than ever to receive timely payments from patients. With the high costs associated with printing and mailing statements, and lingering late and missing patient payments, it’s enough to send the medical office budget into deficit. Though collecting insurance company payments is the lifeblood of all medical facilities, out-of-pocket patient expenses such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance amounts can’t be dismissed. They can add up quickly in lost revenue if stricter collection procedures aren’t in place.
It can be overwhelming for the medical office manager to enforce the practice’s collection policies, but carefully planned out policies and easy-to-remember procedures can help. Increasing in-house patient collections and improving cash flow can be achieved with these five best practices.
- Patient Communication is Key. Be upfront. Talk to patients about the practice’s collection policy, prior to their visit. During the scheduling process, which is often the first conversation with the patient, is an ideal time. This gives patients, especially if they are new, adequate time to plan ahead and help them consider their financial options.
- Create a Collection Policy Brochure. A well-written brochure outlining the financial policy can be both kept and handed out at the reception desk. Instruct your staff to give one to all new patients and to those patients that may need a reminder. Posting the policy on the practice’s website is also another way to save the office staff time. If the patient forgets, it can be looked up without calling the office. For additional reinforcement, consider a social media post with a link to the policy one to two times a month.
- Post Signs. Make patients aware of your practice’s collection policies with various signs strategically placed throughout the facility. Constant reminders with signs, brochures, and during the scheduling process will help to encourage patients to be more diligent when paying their bill on the way out. They’re also more likely to pay upfront when there’s time to plan accordingly.
- Inform Patients on Accepted Payment Methods. In today’s marketplace, acceptable forms of payment include cash, checks, and credit cards. In some practice’s financing options are also available. To ensure the practice’s accepted forms of payment are visible to all, they should be clearly stated on the patient information sheet as well as posted at the reception desk. If the practice accepts checks, remember to post the fees associated with returned checks to avoid both fees incurred to the practice and another late patient payment.
- Staff Training. With constant interruptions vying for our attention, people tend to skim over reading signs, statements, and policies. One-on-one conversations and staff training can be vital when payment collections are on the line. Train front desk and collection personnel on ways to improve patient collections. Oftentimes, they need help navigating the conversation with the patient. Teach them examples of dialogue that can be used when informing patients about the financial policies and when alerting them on missed or late payments. Written communication should never be the only communication.
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