Patient payments are integral to healthcare providers’ revenue cycle, but the difficulty arises when patients fail to take financial responsibility and pay their outstanding bills. The onus falls on the hospitals and healthcare providers to incur uncompensated care expenses that eventually are passed onto paying patients through increased cost of care. According to CNBC, a study held in November 2020, indicated nearly one-third (28 percent) of the individuals with an outstanding medical balance owed more than $10,000. Over half defaulted or were delinquent in paying the healthcare provider. With more patients paying out-of-pocket costs for medical care expenses, healthcare facilities can benefit significantly by shifting their focus on increasing patient payments to boost revenue. Here are four areas that billing departments can utilize to help expedite healthcare collections for patient balances:
1. Communicate Effectively With Patients
Patient Financial Engagement is essential in successful healthcare provider-to-patient relationships. With the recent shift towards healthcare consumerism, healthcare organizations must collect email addresses and mobile numbers from patients to engage them digitally. Providers can help patients by making it easy to pay open balances by using commonly used technology that other verticals use when consumers need to pay an open balance. Patients are used to these common methods that other businesses offer for purchasing products and services, so as a healthcare provider, the need to adopt this level of payment technology is essential to patient collection efforts. Having a unified approach for patient outreach with text messages, email, voice, and traditional paper statements gives patients all the possible ways to receive communication to manage their bills and pay their open balances. Healthcare providers can improve patients’ overall experience and satisfaction by choosing their ideal communication method. However, providers should periodically assess how effective the patient’s selected preference has been in making payments to ensure the maximum benefits are achieved based on their preferences.
2. Patient Financing
Many patients defer healthcare payments or avoid necessary care altogether because of high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Hospitals and practices can use patient financing to accelerate patient payments in a way that benefits both the patient and the healthcare provider. Healthcare providers can partner with healthcare lending companies like HiLiteMD (HiLiteMD.com) and offer patient loans and installment payment plans tailored to patients’ needs instead of risky in-house payment plans where the healthcare provider extends the patient credit free of charge. Incorporating patient financing into the patient financial management strategy reduces overhead with AR follow-up and makes collection efforts easier for the Revenue Cycle Management Department. Providers benefit from a stronger patient-provider relationship with less risk by extending patient credit. It shows flexibility to the patient’s financial needs by offering terms that help their financial situation. Patients feel in control of their medical expenses and are more willing to follow up on their prescribed treatment with the healthcare provider. Having an engaged patient with their financial aspect under control, allows them to focus on their health and increases scores for value-based clinical outcomes for the healthcare provider. Having patient financing available has shown increased patient satisfaction and the likelihood patients will return for future medical needs.
3. Offer Online Payment Platforms
More than 50 percent of patients expect more online or digital interactions with their healthcare providers, including bill payments. With the shift in user preference in terms of technology, a practice can profit from intuitive, mobile-friendly payment technology options that offer functionalities such as a Payment Portal to review previous statements and make payments using various methods. Mobile-first payment platforms have been shown to accelerate the payment process. As text messages and emails have a high open rate, sending patients these types of messages offers a better experience and leads them directly to their outstanding bills to help collect payments faster.
4. Educate Patients
The first point of human interaction patients has with your practice is with the front office staff during the registration and check-in process. Having well-trained office staff is vital for patient payments and revenue cycle management. With proper training, front office staff can explain insurance plans and patient statements to patients upon arrival. Using automated technology in other areas of a practice that historically have taken up staff time, there is now more time to directly engage with the patient regarding questions they have and ensure patient balances are current.
Staff should have complete knowledge of the financial policy of their healthcare provider and be able to explain the payment options to the patient. One of the top reasons patients do not pay their medical expenses is the lack of proper understanding of their insurance deductibles and not understanding of the statements they receive. The administrative staff should have a process to engage and educate patients on their insurance coverage and financial responsibility as their first line of defense to avoid unpaid patient debt. Along with staff engagement, it is helpful to incorporate recorded explainer videos that can be sent to patients in the messages they receive when receiving a statement or open balance notification. With the HiLiteMD platform, patients receive video messages embedded with digital patient statements and payment notifications that educate patients on understanding their patient statements as well as their personal balance owed.
With HiLiteMD, healthcare organizations have the advantage of delivering an automated payment solution that educates patients on their outstanding balances and offers a unified strategy for patients to pay. HiLiteMD provides healthcare providers with services and technology to collect more open patient balances, reduce billing overhead expenses and increase patient satisfaction. To learn more about how HiLiteMD can help improve medical revenue cycle functions, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on the web at https://www.hilitehealth.com