After Medicare and Medicaid, the patient is payer number three for most healthcare providers! This means your healthcare business must evolve to ensure revenue stability while maintaining operational expenses. Rather than hiring additional staff to tackle mounting self-pay accounts, or worse, writing off collectible balances that that are charged off to bad debt, use these strategies to advance late stage balances to early recovery.
Contact Early and Often
As an extension of your business office, an early out self-pay tactic can augment patient contact with patient and insurance billing and follow-up, verification, customer service, self-pay, balance after insurance, and payment monitoring for payment plans. Unfortunately, many early out medical collection agencies use the same methods as debt collectors. And guess what? They see the same results as debt collectors because strong arm collection agency approaches do not translate into better results. Ensure your patient collections team validates and answers patient billing concerns. Patients can be very confused when receiving a medical bill that they thought would be covered by their insurance – in full.
Design Early Out Around Patient Needs
Your billing platform may be efficient with insurance accounts but lacks options to efficiently manage the hundreds to thousands of self-pay and patient balance accounts common in today’s healthcare receivables environment. Check with your vendor for add on digital and in office point of service options such as billing estimates, propensity to pay and alternate payment options.
Patients rarely hesitate to go to another practice if the billing experience is subpar even if the clinical experience was good. Foster dignity and respect at every communication level of the patient encounter.
Focus on Patient-Centricity
Many patients feel shell-shocked at the amount of money they have to pay, the rising costs every year, and about the coverage they actually have, especially with the uncertainly around the ACA. Consider taking the time to listen to them so you can build a creative solution around each patient’s situation.
A telling statistic is that 75% of patients feel that understanding the out of pocket costs bolsters their ability to pay for healthcare treatment. Letting the patient know what the procedure will cost prevents surprises and enhances patient satisfaction.
Use the pre-registration calls to gather all the information you can. Verify current insurance data (especially at the beginning of the year or landmark birthdays like 65 for Medicare). Collect what you can when they arrive by telling the patient how much they need to pay before they come in.
Let patients know about all of your payment options including payment plans as well as the way the billing process works. (Note: studies indicate that 35% of patient calls are about their bills.)
Make it Easy to Pay
In addition to accepting all forms of payment, consider allowing the patient to pay anytime by having an online patient portal or a card swipe kiosk set up onsite for self-pay.
With patient responsibility expected to reach 50% of every healthcare dollar billed in the next five years, go all in now to reduce billing calls and increased charge offs to bad debt. Apply a new approach, technologies, processes, and alternative staffing models to make this vital change work.