Updated: Aug 1
The decline in cash flow that happens in the first few months of every year is something that many doctors are familiar with. Many individuals are currently paying 100% of their medical expenses out of their own pockets because they have not yet reached their deductibles. It's challenging to keep up with a family's high deductible insurance plan, which has an average annual deductible of $4,000. It goes without saying that for certain patients who are unable to pay and for doctors who wish to keep these patients, payment plans are their only alternative.
The rise in popularity of consumer-directed health plans (CDHP), which give patients more financial responsibility for their medical expenses, is one significant transformation in the healthcare system currently under process. A 2015 poll revealed a dramatic increase in firms planning to integrate CDHPs in their employee healthcare services, from 22% to 35%. Medical offices should anticipate an increase in revenue due to patients rather than insurance companies as a result of this move.
Medical practice managers are increasingly focusing on deploying electronic health records and expanding patient scheduling, according to a new JP Morgan analysis. Although these are unquestionably crucial elements of a medical practice, the movement has diverted some attention from overseeing the revenue cycle. Your front desk employees might be useful in this area. The following advice is particularly useful for small medical practices, although it can also be applied to larger businesses.
Whenever services are rendered, collect payment.
Healthcare bills are something you worry about afterwards, according to the dominant culture, which has been teaching people this for years or even decades. You will either receive a bill in the mail later or your insurance provider will take care of it. In actuality, if a patient doesn't pay their portion of the debt straight away, you can have problems getting paid and, in most cases, you won't get paid at all. The front desk staff is in the best position to both collect on outstanding balances when the patient returns and to collect the patient obligation during the visit.
To ensure that the front desk staff is knowledgeable about the payer contractual fees, the specifics of patients' benefits and deductibles, outstanding patient balances, etc., is the best course of action. Upon the patient signing in, they should be prepared to tell them of the amount owed and take payment. Once a patient leaves the building, their chances of collecting their copayment drop to 50%, and if the bill is bigger, they may only have a 10% chance of doing so.
In reality, according to the Medical Group Management Association, offices that don't charge consumers at the time of service lose 30% of their monthly income. Establish a procedure so that your team is well-prepared to notify patients and to be up front about collecting before they leave—or, even better, when they come.
Eliminate payment obstacles
Consumers now anticipate that businesses to provide a variety of payment choices, such as electronic statements and online bill payment, thanks to the information age. Patients today increasingly see healthcare as just another consumer good. With their mounting debt, people want to be able to quickly comprehend what they owe and have a variety of payment options. Offer payment choices like online payments and payment plans to meet their expectations. Being unable to comprehend medical expenses is one justification given for avoiding paying them. Have members of your front desk personnel on hand to go over and clarify patients' medical bills. A system that enables your team to provide payment options to your patients should also be put in place.
Your front desk employees should be seen as a resource by your patients more than virtually anybody else. Keep your front-desk employees up to date on billing developments and trends. Ensure that they are accessible to patients' inquiries and concerns, and make clear that prompt payment is expected. ProMD provides a range of consultation and billing services for medical practices. For a complete circle practice assessment and to prepare for the shifting healthcare environment, get in touch with ProMD right now.