Healthcare policies in the United States seem like they are constantly changing. With these changes comes the need for private practices and other medical centers to re-evaluate their billing practices, and adopt new, updated ways to collect patient payments. Dealing with insurances companies can sometimes be challenging, both for practices and patients. Here are some best billing practices to apply to your practice today.
Communication is one word to describe something with many moving parts. The staff at your office should be trained in how to approach patients to discuss payments in a courteous, understanding, professional way. A great way to look at it is to have a conversation with patients, not to develop a confrontation. Worrying about payments can add stress to already stressful situations, so it’s important to stray away from that stress.
Within this same idea is the need to improve overall communication when it comes to patients billing. Many patients do not fully understand the charges they are looking at and require extra time to explain and discuss. Remember to give them that extra attention and provide them with great service, and they will continue returning for their health needs.
One of the most successful ways to collect patient payments is to request them while the patient is still on-site at your practice. Establish a procedure of collecting co-pays from patients upon their arrival and check-in at the office. Then, at the end of their appointment, share their balance with them and ask if they would like to make a payment before they leave so they do not have to worry about paying at a later date.
Flexible Payment Methods
A true service you can provide your patients with is allowing flexible payment methods for them. This includes cash, check, debit, credit, etc. 70% of U.S. consumers use 3 different payment methods to pay their bills each month, so providing them with that option at your office will likely result in payments being fulfilled.
To take this a step further, consider accepting CareCredit. Patients apply for the program online and receive a certain allotment of credit from the company upon approval. CareCredit then pays the allocated fees directly to the practice, and the patient can pay the credit company over time. While there may be finance charges along the way, this program opens the door for many patients who otherwise would not be able to afford treatment.
There is an abundance of payment technology available to private practices to sign up for routinely sent billing information via email. There are also options to send electronic statements by email, or even appointment and payment reminders via text message. Also, give your patients the option to sign up for auto-payments. Not only does this provide the patient with the ability to not have to worry about payments, but it also pretty much guarantees the practice will receive the payments.
Dr. Arnold Peter Weiss is the R. Scot Sellers Scholar of Hand Surgery; Chief of Hand Surgery; Vice Chairman & Professor, Brown University.