Collecting the patient’s share of their financial responsibility on medical bills isn’t easy unless your processes are highly functional and optimized to meet patient demand for transparency, convenience and confidence.
Unfortunately, most providers aren’t anywhere where they need to be to efficiently collect upon the self-pay portion of medical bills.
In conjunction with our new checklist on patient payment optimization, we’re providing three questions that you need to ask about your current method revenue cycle management as it relates to today’s patient -- along with some insight as to why each is so important.
- Are patients able to pay electronically, or are you still using paper billing instead of online billing?
Consumers simply don’t want paper billing. According to InstaMed, only 24 percent said they wanted to use paper checks for bill payment...yet 87 percent of them reported receiving a medical bill. Providers feel the same way -- Only 14 percent of providers said that they prefer payments in the form of paper checks.
Paper billing is on the decline -- check out the below chart from the 2015 CAHQ Efficiency Index, which shows an uptick in electronic billing mirrored by a decline in paper processing. It just hasn’t adjusted fast enough to consumer desires. The shift in billing processes follows a general trend toward electronic health records (EHRs) in the industry, as providers move other elements of their practice from on print to electronic in order to improve efficiencies.
- Is your technology user-friendly? Is entering payment information intuitive enough that most patients need little or no administrative assistance?
No matter how much a shift to a patient-driven check in process may make sense in theory, resistance and inefficiency is inevitable -- unless the technology is simple, clear, effective and easy to use. That’s why we talk about enabling patients to pay, not just encouraging them but making it clear that it’s the best way to accomplish their goals.
An additional benefit to this is that it removes the burden on your administrative assistants. Instead of walking patients through what’s covered and what isn’t, trying to keep information basic enough to be understandable while still maintaining accuracy on each pan, they’ll be freed up to focus on other administrative duties that might fall to the wayside. Assistants often wear many hats, especially at smaller practices, so this relieves a current responsibility while allowing them to prioritize more important tasks.
- Are you billing as soon as possible, ideally at the point of service and absolutely within 3-5 days following claim adjudication?
A classic adage is especially relevant in medical billing: the early bird does get the worm. This one is pretty self intuitive. When billing at the point of service, practices can secure 90%+ of patient payments; waiting longer means less success and more likelihood that practices sell the debt to collectors for pennies on the dollar. The collections cycle begins before you’ve provided care -- if you don’t start thinking about charging for care until well after the appointment, you’ve dug yourself a hole that makes collecting much tougher.