Best Practices to Improve Patient Collection

With shifting and steadily climbing out-of-pocket costs, the providers now have to rely heavily on their patients—not payers—for a significant portion of their revenue.  This is posing even a bigger challenge now for healthcare providers to improve their bottom line without hurting patient’s experience and disrupting workflow?

  • Fetch the required information before the patient visit

The front desk should collect all the necessary information well in advance like Insurance information, contact information, and address and also make them aware of their outstanding balance if any so that they can be prepared for the same.

  • Check Eligibility before Patient Visit

The front desk should check the insurance eligibility and type & extent of coverage so that they have an idea of how many patients might be liable to pay and convey the same to the patient at the time of visit.

  • Collect Overdue(s) and Copays

As you have already informed that about their outstanding balance at the time of visit, it makes easier to collect the payment for their overdue. Also, educate them about the type & extent of coverage the patient has and what he/she might have to pay. Try to collect in advance by assuring that if the insurance pays then it would be refunded back to the patient.

  • Offer Multiple Payment Methods

An ability to make a payment by various modes like online transfer, credit/debit card, check, over the phone, and/or patient portal would ease the process ending up collecting more revenue for the practice.

  • Payment Plans

Bring the EMI plans in to place for the patients having huge overdue. This would be more helpful as the patient would be able to afford and practice will be able to collect rather than sending it to a collection agency.

  • Timely Followup and Tracking

The front desk should create a culture to do regular follow up with the patients having an outstanding balance, explaining them the ease of payment methods and plans. Also, any payment collected should be accurately tracked.

  • Schedule a regular meeting to review finances

One cannot drive improvement in payment collections unless you track and manage your results.  Make reviewing your payment collections a standard part of your regular financial meeting.  Analyze your progress and determine which strategies are working, and which aren’t. This should be at least a monthly process.

  • Use USPS address service

Not having an updated address after patients have relocated is another common challenge to payment collections.  If this is a frequent problem at your practice, consider adding “address service requested” to any bills you mail so that the U.S. postal service sends you the patient’s correct address (for a minimal fee).

  • Incentivize your billing staff

Constantly following up on past due to accounts with unresponsive patients can be tiring and demotivating for staff.  A little extra encouragement in the form of an incentive program can motivate the staff to collect such accounts.

  • Train staff to prompt for payment

Provide your staff with scripts on how to deal with overdue accounts.  Even though staff might be frustrated by repeated attempts to contact the patient, they should always be courteous and respectful. Make sure all front office staff knows when to prompt patients about unpaid bills, and can provide patients with information on practice rates and methods of payment.

  • Know when to use a collections agency

Set a dollar amount and time limit for referring past due bills to a collection agency. If you’ve gotten to the 90-day mark and the patient still hasn’t paid, it’s time to consider using a collection service. This 90-day mark may vary from practice to practice too. At that point, it’s unlikely that your staff is going to get anywhere. A notification from a third-party agency can make the patient realize you mean business.

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