Maximizing Patient Collections

With High-Deductible plans and healthcare costs on the rise, clinics are taking a harder look at the efficacy of their collection processes for patient balances.   Here are a few tried and true tips to increase patient payments and decrease your aged patient receivables.

Time of Service, Time to Collect.

The easiest and most effective way to keep your patient accounts receivables low, is to collect as accurately as possible at the time of service.  Deductibles, co-insurance and co-pay balances are much harder to collect once the patient leaves your office.   The National Association of Healthcare Access Management estimates the chances of collecting patient payments drops 62% as soon as the patient walks out the front door.  Capitalize on the check in or check out process by verifying each patient’s estimated deductible, coinsurance and/or copay amounts prior to their appointment.   A simple sign at the front desk and some easy revisions to your existing financial policy will alert patients that this balance is due and payable at the time of service.   This front end solution will reduce collection time for the back end staff and decrease statement and postage costs.

Think Daily, Not Monthly.

Another effective tool for reducing outstanding patient balances is to implement running statements daily or weekly.   Utilizing 25-30 day cycles, running statements for new balances on a daily or weekly basis ensures that patients receive their statements promptly after insurance processes, and also eliminates the end of month flood of statement calls and questions.  Patient payments and inquiries are distributed more evenly throughout the month, keeping your cash flow consistent and allowing your staff to more effectively manage patient questions and inquiries.   Better cash flow AND better customer service for your patients.

Follow Up. Follow Up.  Follow Up.

Even with a proactive front office approach and a streamlined statement cycle, it is likely that a few patient accounts will slip through and end up on your aged accounts receivable report.  A consistent and thorough follow up plan ensures the best chance at collecting past due balances.  One effective tool, after a patient has received 1-2 statements, is a simple courtesy call.  A friendly phone call may be all that is needed to quickly resolve a balance or set up payment arrangements.  If attempts to reach the patient by phone fall short, a well-crafted letter can also be effective to elicit patient response.   Pre-Collection letters show patients that you are serious about collecting the debt within a specific timeline.  Many practices also find that an additional final courtesy call following the letter can bring fruitful results.  If repeated contact attempts fail and the patient balance continues to age past 180 days, an outside collection agency may have additional resources helpful in collecting the debt.

A systematic and consistent patient collections process will help your practice maximize patient payments and reduce aged patient balances.   Allocating appropriate resources to this important area of your business is essential.   Consider partnering with Keystone Medical as a cost effective way to increase payments and reduce accounts receivable balances.

Jonathan McClung