Maximize Patient Collections which has a Patient Payment Policy
- October 3, 2017
- Posted by: marlenedubois
- Category: Nursing Assistant Classes
Healthcare practice owners along with managers are often astounded to realize that will This specific can cost as much as $6 or $7 to successfully collect a patient payment using traditional invoices through the mail. Considering employee time, as well as postage along with envelopes, the cost truly adds up when sending dozens of invoices each week. The hours spent preparing invoices also detract through different endeavors around the office – valuable time that will could be focused on improving patient flow, records management, etc. – not to mention that will most patients are sent two or even three invoices before they return payment. Establishing a formal payment policy with your patients can help improve collections along with reduce practice overhead.
Designing a Patient Payment Policy:
When designing your payment policy, spend some time talking with your staff, the person responsible for your billing along with colleagues at different practices. These resources often provide insightful information through direct personal experience about what works along with what doesn’t. Consider the history of your practice in defining how far you should to reach with your payment policy; there are variations through one locale to the next with respect to age, economic status, along with so on. In some areas a written statement of which insurances you accept along with that will “payment is usually due in full at the time of service” might be satisfactory. different areas might require detailed information about payment plans, minimum payments along with your use of collections agencies to set the appropriate expectations.
Just remember to keep This specific simple. The more straightforward your policy, the more effective This specific will be. Be upfront about your rules, clear on how you will handle non-payment, along with direct with enforcement. Too many practices have found out the hard way This specific’s much easier to offer a clearly written policy in advance than This specific is usually to calm a shocked patient down when asked to remit a large payment on the spot.
A Few Considerations:
The most straightforward, direct payment policy would certainly require all patient obligations are met at the time of service, however that will’s not always an option. What about patients who “forget” their checkbook? How about those patients who just don’t have enough money to cover an expensive procedure? Below are a few options you might want to consider.
Some practices offer to send out patient invoices in lieu of payment at the office however add an “invoicing charge” to each mailed statement. These charges often range anywhere through $1-$5 per statement along with help defray some overhead, however rarely all of This specific. While invoicing charges can be effective in getting patients to remit payment with the first bill, they can reflect negatively in a saturated market with strong competition between practices, not to mention for fresh practices seeking to build a patient base.
Payment plans can be a Great alternative for patients unable to meet full obligations at the time of service, however detailed parameters are an imperative. Keep in mind payment plans that will run too long increase the risk of default. Some practices have found the best approach is usually to limit terms to six months or less.
For some types of practices, an example payment plan policy might establish a minimum of say, $100 due at the time of service, with the balance divided into equal installments over the following 6 months. Or, you might divide the total balance into 6 monthly installments, with the first installment due at the time of service.
Regardless of how your payment plan is usually structured, This specific should focus on two equally important goals. First, keep This specific simple to avoid confusion. Second, find a reasonable balance between collecting as much as possible up front, at the time of the visit, along with what the patient can bear. If patients stretch too far upfront, they may not be able to make the remaining payments over the following period, resulting inside the worst case scenario for everyone – default.
Most offices offering payment plans do not charge interest, however This specific’s not an unheard of practice. Interest charges, like invoicing charges, can be a negative determining factor in competitive markets along with for fresh practices. Charging interest also requires additional staff time to calculate invoices before mailing, rarely offsetting the added overhead. Another important factor to remember with interest charges is usually adherence to the rules Truth in Lending Act. This specific can add several more layers of requirements to your practice’s administration, creating further unnecessary complications.
Teaming which has a collections agency can provide you with some recourse if patients fall into default, however consider your options carefully as collection agencies can charge anywhere through 15% to 50% on receivables. Any such partnerships should be thoroughly researched in advance, along with outlined in detail in your policy, including agency contact information for your patients.
Patients who fail to show up for a visit without notice is usually, frankly, annoying along with rude. however invoicing no shows can turn patients away through future visits, not to mention they typically have a very low receivable rate. If you plan on invoicing no shows, keep both of these points in mind as the overhead costs of invoicing may give you enough cause to write This specific off completely.
Alternate Payment Methods:
Consider offering as many payment methods as possible. Recent years have seen a decrease in credit card processing fee, doing them more attractive even for practices with only moderate patient traffic. Credit cards can also be used to bill for monthly installments along with payment plans if signed authorization is usually provided. This specific will also help circumvent the proverbial ‘check inside the mail,’ along with, you’ll know immediately if the charge is usually rejected.
Whatever parameters are defined in your payment policy, communication is usually key to ensuring smooth implementation. Remember that will your office staff is usually on the front line when This specific comes to addressing the policy with patients along with should be given clear instructions on all aspects. An office wide meeting can benefit everyone, offering the opportunity for staff to ask questions before implementation. Provide front office staff with an “internal” copy of the policy with suggestions on when along with how to remind patients of the policy.
In relaying the fresh policy to patients, a sign at the check-in counter stating “All patient obligations must be resolved at the time of service” is usually an easy first step. Second, create a detailed flyer outlining your policy along with keep a stack visible inside the waiting area, along with, for the first few months, each patient should be provided which has a copy of your flyer upon check-in. Front office staff should of advise patients when they call for an appointment along with remind them verbally when upon arrival. If steps are necessary, you might require each patient sign a “Payment Policy Agreement” along with keep This specific with their records.
Some practices currently even send a “fresh patient information packet” when an appointment is usually scheduled far enough in advance. This specific is usually an excellent opportunity to include billing policies with different information about your practice. Practices might also include background information on providers, healthy living suggestions geared toward the practice specialty, or information on how patients should prepare for an office visit.
Creating your policy is usually the first step to improving out of pocket collections, however This specific will only be as effective as your implementation along with follow through. A few little adjustments to office procedures will ensure This specific is usually carried out successfully.
First, This specific should become standard procedure for staff to obtain pre-authorization through insurance carriers – before the appointment, not just before a claim is usually filed. Create a list of steps associated with scheduling a patient visit that will includes researching co-pays, deductibles, visitation allowances, etc. directly with the carrier. Although pre-authorizations can be made over the phone, “self-serve” online with many carriers is usually much quicker. Common carrier websites could even be bookmarked on workstations for easy access.
Second, condition your staff to leverage information through pre-authorizations along with discuss patient obligations at check-in. All parties should be fully aware of their responsibilities along with patients anticipated to advise how they will remit payment.
Third, to ensure patients don’t “get away” without paying everyone should be required to check-out, as well as check-in. All members of your staff – doctors, nurses, assistants, whoever is usually the last to visit with the patient – should clearly remind them to stop by the front desk or cashier to address co-pays on the way out, along with receive detailed instructions on additional balances that will will be billed to them.
Finally, review the performance of your policy. Allow one or two weeks for adjustments to take effect along with begin evaluation of results. Arm yourself with detailed information about collections rates for the weeks along with months prior to the change along with compare against the weeks immediately following. Take note of what’s going on around the office; evaluate how the staff is usually managing the fresh policy along with make adjustments as necessary. If something does not appear to be working, make sure you’ve given ample time to fully measure results, however don’t be afraid to make another change. Remember, maximizing out of pocket collections is usually an ongoing task, however if done properly This specific can yield great improvements in your practice’s overall profitability.