Best Practices for Patient Collections - Management Resource Group, LLC Best Practices for Patient Collections - Management Resource Group, LLC

Best Practices for Patient Collections

Best Practices for Patient Collections

Best Practices for Patient Collections

Man Paying Medical Professional

In our last blog, The Rise of Patient Costs, we reviewed the factors that have led to the steady rise in patient costs in healthcare. One of the most significant impacts seen has been an increase in PBAI, Patient Balance after Insurance.

PBAI is the cost a patient is required to pay because of a contractual obligation or for a service that is non-covered. From 2012 to 2017, overall PBAI increased from 8.0% to 12.2%; for those commercially insured patients, PBAI has increased a staggering 67%.

What impact does this have on healthcare providers? A significant increase in BAD DEBT accounts unless those providers come up with a way to manage this burden.

As the cost of healthcare continues to rise and the amount paid by insurance continues to decline, patients will be required to pay more out of pocket. Patients will likely end up with healthcare bills they cannot afford to pay without some assistance. The key word to focus on here is assistance.

Some patients will need assistance with their medical bills. Those healthcare professionals who provide support to these patients will be the most successful in collecting these debts. Support does not necessarily mean forgiveness. Support means providing information and options for payment.

Here are some of our recommended best practices for patient collections. Supplying your patients with information about their responsibility and providing payment options will make it easier to collect these obligations.

  1. Education, Education, Education: Take the extra time to help your patients and their families understand the procedures, treatments and those associated costs. Knowing the costs upfront will provide your patients the opportunity to plan. Avoiding “sticker shock” is the best way to avoid BAD DEBT.
  2. Collect copays and/or deductibles up front and attempt to collect any outstanding balances: Collecting payments upfront is easier and less expensive than trying to collect after services have been rendered. Setting expectations for payments on those amounts will make it easier for those patients to make a plan to pay. Collecting in advance will also help your practice’s cash flow.
  3. Verify demographics including contact and insurance policy info: Your check-in staff should always make sure to collect and verify each patient’s demographic and insurance policy information. It is critical to ensure that the insurance policy is in effect and will cover the services being provided. Verifying this information upfront will help you avoid situations where patients are left paying for services they thought were covered.
  4. Make it easier for patients to pay: Offer multiple payment options such as accepting credit cards and providing ways to pay online. Look into outside finance companies and provide those options. There is nothing more frustrating for patients than having to try and remember how to fill out a check when they are used to making transactions with ApplePay. Do not let an antiquated billing system impair your ability to collect!
  5. Have a written payment policy and communicate that policy to your patients: Help your patients understand your payment policy, their options for payment, and the consequences of being delinquent. You should always have your patients read and sign your payment policy prior to services being rendered. Be sure your payment policy is easy to understand. Confusing legalese in your policy will do nothing, but create confusion.
  6. Offer reasonable payment terms on larger balances: Let patients know your office or practice provides payment plans. Make sure they are easy to understand and can be setup on auto-payment, so those patients do not have to remember to pay each month. Be sure the terms of the payment plan are fair to both you the provider as well as the patient. Manage these plans to ensure these patients are staying compliant with the agreed upon payment terms.
  7. Consider engaging a billing/collections company and be sure to answer questions timely to help increase collections: Focus on customer service and collecting current data. When patients have questions regarding their responsibility, make it easy for them to get answers. Billing and collection agencies are great partners and can provide the customer support and technical expertise provider groups often need. Technology and data will always play a key role in helping manage patient collections.

In part IV of our series, we will spend some time on the importance of customer service and how that ringing phone can either make or break a practice.

If you have any questions or need assistance with any revenue cycle issues your practice may be experiencing, please reach out to an MRG representative at 888-818-0563 or visit our website at www.mrgllc.net for an overview of our services. Until next time – stay safe and healthy and financially aware!

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