10 Things Providers Can Do to Improve Collections and Patient Payments 

In today’s tough economy, healthcare providers are facing numerous

 challenges in collecting patient balances. With the ever-changing HMO reimbursement policies, it is essential for providers to take a proactive approach towards collections and patient payments. In this blog post, we have compiled a top 10 list of things that providers and billers can do to improve collections and patient payments. 

  1. Know your provider’s collection policy

    The first step towards improving collections is to know your provider’s collection policy. If a policy does not exist, it is essential to develop one. Have a staff meeting and inform others of the new policy. Effective collections begin when the patient first comes to the office or calls for an appointment. During that initial office visit, have a staff member explain the office policy regarding payments and obtain the patient’s insurance information. If the patient calls for an initial appointment, have a staff member obtain and verify insurance eligibility prior to the patient’s appointment. 
  1. Ask for payment after rendering services

    Once the provider has rendered services, have a staff member inform the patient of the amount due and ask for payment. If the patient is not a Medicare patient, then collect all coinsurance at that time. 
  1. Offer a variety of payment options

    It is important to offer a variety of payment options, including cash, check, and credit card, and maybe an ATM if it is cost-effective for your provider. Many people tend to use plastic instead of paper. You may also want to consider payment plans depending on the amount charged and the patient’s ability to pay. 
  1. Verify coverage and eligibility prior to the appointment

    Verify the coverage and eligibility prior to the appointment. If the patient has a deductible, you can collect any amount up to the deductible. In other words, if the patient’s deductible is $100 and your provider’s charge is $75, you can collect the entire $75 from the patient. 
  1. Expect payment for rendered services

    Patients should be expected to pay for rendered services just like they would pay for food, clothing, etc. 
  1. Provide return envelopes for mail-in payments

    When arrangements are made for a patient to mail in a payment, give or send a return envelope. This makes it easier for the patient to send in a payment. 
  1. Send patient statements daily

    Patient statements should go out daily as insurance payments are received. Patients who have insurance will receive a notice from their carrier of the amount paid to their provider. You can send a statement for the balance indicating the amount paid, or you can copy the EOB and send it along with your statement. 
  1. Set aside time to follow up on accounts

    Time should be set aside daily or weekly to send out claims and to follow up on accounts. Payments from carriers should be received in less than 45 days, and 60 days for workers’ compensation claims if they are not contested. 
  1. Send electronic statements

    Many practices delay sending statements because of the overhead and resources required. If that’s you, consider electronic statements by BillFlash. All you do is transmit an electronic file, just like electronic claims, and your statements will be mailed out for you. 
  1. Establish a rapport with patients

    When collecting over the phone, establish a rapport with the patient. Be firm, but do not threaten or intimidate the patient. Kindness and understanding go a long way. Make sure you reach a payment arrangement with the patient before you hang up. 

Healthcare providers face many challenges collecting patient balances in today’s tough economy. However, by following the above-mentioned tips, providers can improve their collections and patient payments. It is important to be proactive in collections and establish a policy that is communicated clearly to patients. It is also essential to provide a variety of payment options and follow up on accounts in a timely manner. Keeping these in mind will help keep the practice financially healthy.