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Improve Patient Collection for Your Practice in 9 Easy Steps

Why is improving patient collection necessary for your practice?
To answer your question, let’s elaborate on the importance of patient collections in healthcare revenue cycle management. Increasing patient collections is one of the key components of effective RCM. Medical payments have drastically changed post the pandemic and are increasingly affected by the ever-increasing care costs. However, this doesn’t end here; the burden of bill payments still falls on the patients. Therefore, healthcare providers must adjust their collections to reflect the new demands of the industry accurately – all the more so to avoid cash flow target issues.
What’s interesting here is that patient copays make up close to 20% of a doctor’s office revenue. However, most practices can only collect just 60% of patient copays. Such a fall in patient collection rate, with the expansive demands of changing ICD codes and updates, can become a problem for your practice’s revenue recovery. Therefore, improving your patient payment collection process must be the top priority in your healthcare financial plan.

Improve Patient Collection with 9 Easy Steps

Understanding and then running the patient collection process can indeed be a challenge. To assist with collection issues, we present 9 practical steps outlined below.

1. Collect Payments Upfront

One strategy involves increasing transactions at the point of service (POS) collection. Utilizing the moment when the patient is physically present is ideal. The front desk or check-in staff should actively communicate any outstanding balances and previous collection attempts to the patient.
This approach ensures that patient balances are addressed quickly, allowing billing departments to boost revenue from collections. Moreover, it minimizes the need for prolonged efforts in pursuing unpaid bills and issuing statements.

2. Collect Payments through Patient Portals

Simplify the payment process for your patients by encouraging online payments through a dedicated patient portal. This user-friendly approach enables them to make payments securely from the convenience of their homes. Opting for online payments enhances patient comfort and simplifies the collection process, saving valuable time and resources. Without the hassle of dealing with physical paperwork, you can expedite the collection of payments efficiently.

3. Developing Well-designed Statements

Clarity is important when it comes to patient bills. Craft easily understandable statements, ensuring patients fully understand their charges, services rendered and any adjustments. Include essential contact details like phone number, contact person, and email address to facilitate inquiries about statements. This transparent communication aids in promoting a smoother patient collection process.

4. Provide Multiple Plans for Payment

For patients eager to pay but unable to settle the entire bill simultaneously, offering flexible payment plans provides confidence in meeting essential treatment costs. Customize these plans, especially for patients facing higher bills, ensuring their financial limitations do not hinder necessary healthcare. Verify that these payment plans align with state and federal regulations, maintaining compliance for both parties.

5. Identify Outstanding Balances

Before or during providing care, ensure that coverage is verified with payers and that payer rules are understood. This approach helps pinpoint changes in the patient collection process, outlines coverage for expected treatment charges, and clarifies patient payment responsibilities.

6. Allow a Variety of Payment Options

To enhance financial well-being, medical practices can optimize collections from patients by expanding payment options. Refocus your patient collection process where patients bear more medical expenses. Increase convenience for patients by accepting various payment modes such as credit cards, debit cards, electronic fund transfers (EFTs), checks, and cash. This flexibility accommodates diverse patient preferences and simplifies the payment process for improved collections.

7. Streamline Your Payment Posting Process

Optimizing payment posting enhances patient collection efficiency. Implement these strategies:

Real-time Posting

Aim for real-time posting of payments to maintain up-to-date financial records. Use electronic systems for instant payment verification and accurate documentation.

Automated Tools

Invest in automated payment posting tools to reduce manual errors and simplify reconciliation. These tools integrate with your billing system, saving time and minimizing discrepancies.

Detailed Documentation

Ensure comprehensive documentation of each payment received, including payment method, date, and services covered. This record-keeping aids in transparency and resolving any inconsistencies.

Reconciliation Checks

Regularly reconcile posted payments with your bank statements to identify and address differences. This approach helps maintain financial accuracy.

Staff Training

Provide adequate training to your billing staff on efficient payment posting practices. Familiarize them with the latest tools and technologies to maximize effectiveness.
Implementing these measures will expedite the payment posting process and contribute to a more efficient and error-free patient collection workflow in your healthcare practice.

8. Follow Up on Overdue Collections

Ensuring a robust cash flow calls for constant follow-ups on overdue patient collections. Consider the following strategies for managing delinquent patient collections in healthcare:

Make a Phone Call

Initiate a personalized phone call to connect with patients regarding overdue accounts. Clearly explain the outstanding balance and inquire about any reasons for payment delays. If necessary, discuss feasible payment plans during the conversation.

Send a Written Reminder

In addition to the phone calls, dispatch a well-crafted written reminder to the patient’s home or email address. Ensure the communication is transparent and empathetic and includes complete information on available payment methods.
Persistence and empathy are key during follow-ups, particularly when patients encounter financial difficulties. Collaborate with patients to find mutually beneficial solutions, effectively creating a positive approach to resolving overdue patient collections.

9. Outsource Your Patient Collections

Consider outsourcing to enhance the efficiency of your medical billing collection process. Outsourcing third-party billing providers brings expertise to implement effective strategies, ensuring a steady cash flow and quick collection. They specialize in patient follow-ups for overdue accounts and assist with denied claims. The advantages of outsourcing patient collections include:

  • Improved cash flow
  • Increasing patient satisfaction
  • Reduction in administrative burden

The Era of Contactless Payments in Healthcare

Patients are now seeking convenient ways to settle bills without visiting hospitals. Virtual payment portals offer the comfort of debt clearance from home. A 2021 survey shows over 80% of customers preferred contactless payment options.
Today, customers can effortlessly tap credit or debit cards onto POS devices for payments. Setting transaction limits adds an extra layer of security against unauthorized withdrawals.

  • The younger demographic, aged 26–35, prefers online wallets like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal, as highlighted in the U.S. Bank Healthcare Payment Insight report, with 28% favoring mobile app payments.
  • Enhance patient payment accessibility by including QR codes on statements. The QR Codes Forecast and Trends 2022 report by Insider Intelligence predicts a surge in U.S. smartphone users scanning QR codes—from 83.4 million in 2022 to 99.5 million in 2025.

Implementing self-pay collection practices reduces accounts receivable days and overall improvement in the collection process.

Conclusion– Sharing Your Load with Billing Experts

Managing the patient collection process can be overwhelming, especially with a higher number of patients. Engaging the services of medical billing experts can relieve this burden. Billing professionals specialize in translating medical services into accurate codes and assisting in determining correct patient charges. Operating a healthcare practice without billing experts is risky. Errors in billing and inaccuracies can lead to patient lawsuits and federal fines. To avoid such consequences, healthcare professionals wisely choose certified billing experts. Including these professionals in your practice ensures billing accuracy and minimizes legal risks, ultimately contributing to a smoother patient collection process.



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