Addressing the Problems of Collecting Patient Payments in Healthcare
As we have addressed before, the rise of high deductible health plans (HDHP) have led to a sharp increase in patient payment responsibilities, which in turn has led them to demand more price transparency, a high level of communication on the cost of care via digital channels, and easier and more convenient ways to pay. As a result of the rise of patient as a payer, most medical practices are proactively seeking to implement technology that automates the patient revenue cycle and removes the uncomfortable conversations about collecting outstanding patient payment balances. On the back end, the traditional method of sending paper statements has become incredibly expensive and outdated and is not an effective way to collect patient payments.
Medical providers must recognize that they will see a larger percentage of their future revenue streams come from patient out-of-pocket expenses and adapt their approach, processes, and systems in order to improve patient collections while also creating and maintaining a good relationship with patients.
Below is a brief summary of some of the best practices to improve patient collection while also improving patient satisfaction and retention rates. These practices are expanded upon in the whitepaper.
Practices need to increase awareness and accountability. Being able to recognize what is working and what is not can go a long way towards creating an effective team. It might be beneficial to create a baseline of current revenue cycle metrics and then comparing that baseline with good external benchmarks. Practices should focus on process improvement aimed at boosting patient yield (net patient collections – patent billing & collection expenses over total patient responsibility).
As we discussed earlier, there is an increased demand from patients for price transparency. Now that a high percentage of the healthcare payments are coming from patients themselves, they want clear and concise information on how much they will owe. Surveys have showed that patients prefer having the option to keep a credit card on file to automatically pay residual balances under $200. Technology is at the forefront of the move from healthcare patient revenue cycle status quo and practices should utilize it. Technology can act as a “digital assistant” by taking over many of the back-end revenue cycle tasks.
Now more than ever, it is beneficial for practices to have a good relationship with patients. One way to do this is by providing appointment reminders via preferred digital communication channels. Confirm the date and time of the appointment, include special visit instructions and a Google map/directions of the office location, proactively have forms (e.g. - Consent to Treat, Financial Policy) filled out prior to the visit, and send the information to them via SMS text and/or email. Sending patients appointment info leads to fewer missed appointments, less time filling out forms at the office, and an opportunity to pay down outstanding balances via a patient portal which in turn leads to more effective patient payment collections.
By incorporating some of these practices, providers can optimize patient payments and increase revenue while boosting patient engagement and retention. Utilizing the latest tech-enabled patient RCM management solutions, such as Health iPASS, is the right choice for practices who wish to thrive now and in the face of additional forthcoming patient revenue cycle changes in the healthcare industry.
The updated version of the whitepaper will be available under “White Papers” in the Resources tab. You can download that whitepaper, or any other Health iPASS whitepaper by visiting the whitepaper page or clicking on the link below.
It's no longer a secret that medical practices across the country continue to struggle with collecting patient payments. By now, most of us know that the rise of high deductible health plans (HDHPs) are straining patients' wallets and pushing the need for providers to not only be more transparent about what patients owe up-front and post insurance claim adjudication, but also offer more flexible payment options and the ability to leave a payment-on-file for a specific encounter.
Quickly doing the math would lead one to realize that medical practice specialties providing services that result in high out-of-pocket patient expenses are more at risk from the repercussions of not modernizing their patient revenue cycle with technology that automates, increases price transparency into the cost of care, and presents more payment options including the ability to leave a payment-on-file and pro-actively set up payment plans for large balances.
Earlier in the month of December, Rajesh moderated our most recent Health iPASS webinar, a panel discussion centered on strategies to help medical providers collecct more patient payments in 2019. Rajesh presided over an impressive panel of healthcare experts that included John Hornberger, CEO of Orthopedic Center of Palm Beach County, Eric Brodsky, Principal at Epoxy and Executive Director of Illinois MGMA, and Joe Clark, CEO of Sierra Pacific Orthopedics. Rajesh moderated the discussion on the future of healthcare and how the “status quo” of paper statements and lack of technology use is a thing of the past. If you missed that webinar, a recording of it is available here.
This week is yet another opportunity to hear Rajesh and learn from his great insights on the future of the patient revenue cycle in healthcare. Tomorrow, January 22nd from 12-1 pm central time, Rajesh will be participating in the Association of Dermatology Administrators and Managers (ADAM) webinar entitled “ Preparing for 2019 and Beyond: Revenue Cycle Regulatory Legislation on the Horizon” will outline and discuss pending legislative framework changes on the horizon that could negatively affect revenue cycles and how providers can manage these changes and abandon the status quo.
With the rise of high deductible health plans (HDHPs), patient as a payer is becoming the new norm. Patients are demanding price transparency so they can clearly understand both before and at the point-of-service how much money they owe after a doctor’s visit. Over the last few years, there have been moves both at the state and federal levels towards establishing greater healthcare price transparency and reducing/eliminating surprise medical bills. In fact, as of June of 2018, 28 states now require hospitals, physicians, and/or healthcare plans to publish per-procedure costs.
With a significant push towards greater price transparency, data-driven healthcare pricing reform and transparency will only accelerate. While this is not a new initiative, the Colorado Transparency in Health Care Prices Act, which went into effect January 1st of 2018, is breaking new ground and may well serve as a model for ongoing efforts to increase healthcare price transparency for patients. As the healthcare industry is confronted with new cost transparency legislation, providers need to adapt.
You can register for the upcoming ADAM webinar by following this link. You may also download all our Health iPASS webinars by visiting the “webinar” page located under the Resources tab on our main site. We look forward to hearing more of Raj’s insights and we hope you are too. Read More
Back on December 31st, Rajesh was a guest on the eHealth radio podcast, " Tackling the New Dynamics of Patient Revenue Cycle Management in the Era of Healthcare Consumerism with Eric Michaels. On the podcast, Rajesh touched on several topics related to the reality and after effects of patients now being the primary payer in revenue cycle management.
Rajesh started the interview by discussing the fast rise of patient as the primary payer of healthcare expenses due to the sharp increase in high deductible health plans (HDHPs), and the fact that practices need to find a way to adjust accordingly. There are several different payment methods to ensure that practices are optimizing patient payments. One that Rajesh mentioned, and Health iPASS uses, is allowing patients to keep a credit card on file (CCOF) to pay for any residual balances that may be owed post insurance claim adjudication. Not only does the CCOF help patients manage healthcare expenses, it can also significantly improve medical practice cash flow by quickly reducing days in accounts receivable (A/R).
With the rise of HDHPs, patients are responsible for more of their medical bill. As a result, price transparency is becoming increasingly important in the revenue cycle. Rajesh also discussed how as a result of higher out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, trust between provider and patient is more important now than ever.
“Every patient that walks into their [doctor’s office] wonders how it will impact what comes out of their pocket,” said Voddiraju, “Trust has been sorely missing in healthcare. We need to be getting more patients to believe in the billing process.”
Patients are also looking for greater price transparency and a breakdown of what they may owe for specific procedures once their insurance process the claim. That's why offering cost estimates pre-arrival, at point-of-service, at claim submission, and pre-surgery is critical to establish price transparency that builds patient trust and patient retention.
“Consumers are beginning to demand [price transparency]. There needs to be a very consumer-friendly way to making the technology.” Rajesh mentioned, “Both consumer and state/federal regulatory demands are requiring practices to rethink their revenue cycle from the time of scheduling all the way through providing and promoting price transparency.”
Additionally, Rajesh also talked about about the Health iPASS patient revenue cycle solution. Practices using the Health iPASS revenue cycle solution are recognizing 97% collection of residual balances when patients check in using the Health iPASS kiosk and place a CCOF. He mentioned how Health iPASS is taking advantage of the new technology to improve the revenue cycle for medical practices.
“Health iPASS has been able to leverage technologies such as machine learning to study information available in medical billing systems and present this in real-time at the point of service through a user-friendly, easy-to-understand patient revenue cycle solution that brings a level of price transparency to the consumer on the front end.”
Lastly, Rajesh discussed the future of healthcare. He has mentioned many times that automation and technology are at the forefront of the future for the patient revenue cycle in healthcare. In one of our recent blog posts, he reiterated that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline back-end practice tasks such as insurance eligibility and patient demographic checks, patient payment posting, and appointment reminders, will become increasingly common.
Health iPASS would like to thank Eric Michaels and the eHealth Radio Netwoek for having Raj on their program and allowing him to share the benefits of the Health iPASS revenue cycle solution. You can listen to the podcast by following this link. Read More
Here’s the good news! If you couldn’t view the webinar the first time around, you can now. The webinar is now available online. Here are some of the highlights from the entertaining and informative webinar on how to improve patient payment collection in 2019.
The panel touched on a lot of topics regarding the current state of the patient revenue cycle in healthcare. They discussed current patient revenue collection strategies—specifically what is and is not working--- and the difficulties of securing patient payment guarantees.
Additionally, the panel discussed the future of revenue cycle management. They talked about what is adding to the cost to collect, how the shift from fee for service to value-based care impacts future payment models, and how a medical practice can effectively address change management.
The webinar featured an informative discussion about several important topics in the healthcare revenue cycle. The main takeaway was that technology needs to be at the forefront of changes to the patient revenue cycle. Here are some of the panelists comments:
- “I think technology represents the future [of the revenue cycle],” said Eric Brodsky. “A more efficient way of applying it is the key.”
- The panel also mentioned how keeping up with the “status quo” of not using technology and delivering paper statements will ultimately sink medical practices, while also noting how use of technology has improved relationships with patients.
- “If status quo is your goal, you are not going to succeed. Everybody needs to be looking forward and changing that dynamic.” said John Hornberger. “We need to take advantage with patient revenue cycle technology, and through doing that we’ve been able to form a better relationship with our patients. We’ve moved from ‘traditional methods’ to technology.”
- “A lot of practices are still challenged with leveraging technology. The real issue is whether these practices are using these technologies to their fullest extent?” Eric Brodsky commented. “Paper statements are going by the wayside. You have to have multiple methods to be able to communicate with patients, whether it’s paper, e-mail, or even text.”
While all the panelists agreed that implementing these technologies are the only way to ensure practices collect most of the patient payments they are owed, they also talked about the hurdles that come with moving toward these technologies.
“The key for a successful implementation is educating the staff on why you’re doing it. Really explain to them where we are headed,” said Joe Clark. “Secondly is training staff and educating patients of the advantages of using card-on-file and kiosk systems.”
Downloading the Webinar
We have improved our website to give visitors easier access to Health iPASS content. You can find the webinar on our new “webinar” page under the resources tab. To listen to our informative webinar, visit the landing page and fill out the form on the page to get instant access to our webinars.
Has this webinar on how to improve patient payment collections motivated you to take action and explore your options? Let us know and we can set up a quick demo of our patient revenue cycle solution.
Ah, the beginning of a new year. It’s a time to look back and do some self-reflection on what worked for you and what didn’t in 2018. A new year presents the opportunity to make a change for the better (who doesn’t love that?). And of course, it’s a time of predictions and hopes for the coming year. Wondering what’s next for your patient revenue cycle? Let’s consult our resident expert, Rajesh Voddiraju, on his 2019 patient revenue cycle and patient payment forecast. He dusted off his famed “patient revenue cycle crystal ball” once again in order to provide the following insights.Read More