Practice Management: 4 Ways to Improve Upfront Patient Collections

Physicians must do everything they can to collect fees from patients at the time of their appointment. This sounds pretty obvious, right? Well that does not mean it is easy.  Patient out-of-pocket fees account for a third of a practice's revenue.  But once that patient leaves, the odds of collecting that money is nearly chopped in half.

No one should let that kind of money walk out of the door. After speaking with practice management consultants, we found the best ways to ensure collection efficiency while maintaining strong customer satisfaction. 

1. Educate Patients
Do not ever blind side your patient with costs. Patients should know in advance how much they owe and if they have any payment options. This is particularly applicable for high deductible or self-pay patients. If your practice offers a discount for patients who pay large amounts on the spot, then discuss this opportunity with them before the time of payment. The more patients are informed, the more likely they are to pay what is owed.

2. Train Your Team
Your staff should know all aspects of the insurance and how it applies to each patient. They should also have a script of exactly how to ask for money from patients. Requesting payments can be tricky. A good method is to have a script of exactly what to say. For instance, instead of saying “you owe 30 dollars,” a staff member could ask “cash, check or charge?” With strong training, there is less room for error.

3. Accept Credit Cards and Automate Payments
Make sure your practice accepts credit cards. The extra fees can be off putting but they are worth it. Ask your patients to keep their credit card information on file. With their permission, you can automate payments of an agreed upon amount.

4. Be Professional About Balances
In the age of information, there should be a record of everything. There should be something in writing for the sake of your practice and your patients.  If you decide to accept installments on a balance, have the patient sign a promissory agreement. If you don’t keep it professional, they won’t either.

Research for this piece was conducted by Software Advice, an online firm for software buyers. For more on the topic, check out the original post on their Profitable Practice blog.

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