Heed Expert Tips & Tricks to Sharpen Your Medical Billing ProcessDon’t rely on ineffective generic patient statements to get paid
If your practice is like most others, about 30 percent of your revenue comes from patient payments. But collecting patient balances is no easy feat; patients know that few providers will send their balances to collections agencies. People typically pay their outstanding medical bills last – if they even pay at all. But thankfully, there are plenty of strategies you can employ to improve your practice’s capture of patient payments.
Best bet: The billing process starts when the patients makes the appointment – before a clinician even sees the patient, according to medical billing/coding expert Barbara J. Cobuzzi in Medical Billing From Front to Back Virtual Boot Camp. Verifying the patient’s insurance eligibility is critical to optimize revenue for every medical practice and facility.
Follow 3 Pro Tips to Improve Your Billing
Thanks to a variety of factors, like growing documentation requirements and an increasing number of patients who have to pay a substantial portion of their medical bills, many medical practices are finding it more and more challenging to collect payments from both patients and insurance companies, according to a report by Applied Medical Systems (AMS).
Strategies: But you don’t need to throw up your hands in despair. AMS details several tips to improve your cash flow and improve your practice’s financial success. Here are some smart options:
- Collect at the time of service: Most patients understand that they will need to pay a portion of their bill out-of-pocket, so make sure you’re collecting these payments at the time of service. This is one of the easiest ways to improve your cash flow, AMS says.
- Make paying remaining balances easy: Always keep in mind that any money you don’t collect at the time of service will be tough to capture later on. Mail statements to patients as soon as possible after the service date so that the service is still fresh in their minds, AMS advises. Also, provide an online/electronic billing option if possible.
- Tackle those denials: Although certainly labor-intensive, you should address any denials immediately, AMS recommends. Even better, work to implement a system among physicians and office staff to improve billing accuracy and minimize denials.
Refine Your Collections Process in 3 Easy Steps
Regardless of how many safeguards you put in place, such as collecting out-of-pocket payments up-front, you will always have to deal with collections. All healthcare providers need to have a collections process to ensure their practice’s financial health, according to a tutorial by Healthcare Administrative Partners (HAP).
Better yet, have a proactive, preemptive collections process, HAP suggests. For instance, do the following before a specific debt even crops up:
- Establish clear terms: Include exactly what patients should expect regarding paying their debts in their new-patient paperwork and regular reminders when any changes occur.
- Collect patient information: Make sure you have as much information as possible about your patients, including addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and workplace information, as well as a photo ID at the first visit, HAP advises. You will need all this information if you need to send the claims to a collections agency.
- Ask for permission to leave messages: In your new-patient paperwork, include an agreement that patients can sign to receive voicemail messages regarding billing matters.
Think Outside the ‘Patient Statement’ Box
Ultimately, when it comes to collections, you should work with patients who owe past-due amounts by setting up payment plans and explaining what their insurance cover does and does not cover, Cobuzzi advises. Make sure that you educate new patients about your practice’s financial policies and their responsibilities.
You can try a variety of strategies to encourage patients to pay their balances and improve your collections, including using payment coupon books, allowing patients to pay with a credit card or checking account transit numbers over the phone, and setting up payment plans using a credit card on file, Cobuzzi says. You have to try these more effective collections methods, instead of just relying on generic patient statements that don’t get your practice paid.