- Emma Watson
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Collecting Patient Payments
In order to maintain your medical practice to keep the lights on and also maintain the professional staffing level that you and your patients rely on, you must pay close attention to the flow of income.
The Collect Payment Function provides an easy way to record or swipe a card to post patient payments for copays and outstanding account balances. Medical providers and staff alike need to be educated about how the collection of unpaid balances contributes to their own financial well being. Making the connection between faster payments and the security of their own jobs should be sufficient motivation to be more vigilant.
To collect more patient payments with less delay should be your new goal, keeping in mind that your practice is a business and your patients are the consumers. While you are in the healthcare field to help others, you also have a duty to your staff to collect what is owed, making payroll and keeping the doors open.
Five best practices to improve patient payment collections
Educate Staff How to Discuss Payments with Patients
Staff should approach patients with courtesy and professionalism. The idea is here to have a conversation and not a confrontation. Patients are often already worried about their medical condition, and having fears about making payment can only add to their stress.
Be kind and let patients know that your practice understands their financial burdens, and then steer the conversation to discuss your various payment plan options.
Improve Communication With Patients Compassion Fatigue
Nearly half of patients in one survey did not understand their medical cost and were more likely to judge the providers negatively because of it. But if you improve communication with patients, you have a better chance of improving patient options.
For example, fewer than half of providers use email or text to communicate with their patients, even as patients say they want or expect this availability. You can address this quite easily by activating the patient portal with your electronic health record or EHR software. A portal makes communication much easier. Patients can send message to your staff by online messaging, safely and securely, without wasting precious time on hold on the phone. And since the staff can reply with convenience, the lines of communication will be more open.
Use Appointment Reminders for Bill Payment
Make unpaid balance or payment reminders part of your appointment reminders. When staff contact patients to confirm an upcoming appointment, have them mention any unpaid balance amounts and explain the different options the patient has to pay. Make it clear that patients will be expected to pay before the appointment or when they arrive at the office.
Schedule a Regular Meeting to review finance
You can’t drive improvement in your 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 are not. Repeat this process at least once in a month.
Take Advantage of Payment Technologies
Many companies routinely send out billing information by email, and you should adopt this best practice too. You can send electronic statements to patients as soon as they leave the office. If no payment arrives by the due date, you have the option to follow up with polite payment reminders to patients via email.
For greater convenience, you will also want to set up each patient’s card-on-file for scheduled and flexible automatic credit card and debit card payments. Practices that have a lot of follow-up appointments will find this best practice to be most lucrative. Automatic payments reduce friction, and patients will appreciate that there is less work involved in making their restitution.