As more insurers shift the cost of care onto patients, through high deductible plans and larger copayments, physicians are increasingly on the hook, with more revenue that’s owed to them coming from patients’ pockets. Collecting payments from patients is difficult, so practices need to adapt so that collecting revenue from patients comes just as easily as collecting reimbursement from insurers.
A white paper by Zirmed, a health information and consulting company, suggests three tips to help physician practices:
Be up-front. Providers need to alter their billing process so it more closely resembles consumers’ retail transactions experience.
Collect as soon as possible. Many patients are more willing to pay their bills sooner than they currently are. Health care is the one transaction in which a service is provided, but the patient receives a bill weeks later, not at the point of service.
Improve practice workflow. Providing patients with an idea of how much they will be responsible for paying based on insurance plan design and coding information upon the patient’s arrival, or at the time of an appointment confirmation, can significantly improve the flow of the billing cycle.
The paper also suggests that practices offering payment plans that fits the patient’s budget and the provider’s guidelines before they leave the office. If it’s determined that a patient will not be able to meet his or her responsibility, the provider can appropriately and quickly write it off as bad debt or as charity.
In addition, training front office staff to act as billing agents so they understand how offering details about out-of-pocket responsibilities—patients appreciate knowing what they will have to pay before the visit, as opposed to being surprised by a bill later.
Other helpful suggestions are available here
Collect More From Patients Without Hurting Satisfaction, Zirmed 2014