Like so many in the healthcare industry across the country, your practice may be feeling the pinch. Expenses are rising, admissions declining, and worst of all, reimbursements are flatlining.. Data from Moody’s Investors Service says hospitals find themselves more cash-strapped than any time since the 2008 financial crisis, and that the situation may only grow worse with median operating cash-flow margins on a downward trajectory.
Clearly, now more than ever it’s important to use medical debt collection services you can rely on – such as ours. At the same time, just like professionals in your industry, we believe in applying preventative measures before the cure.
You may have read our popular listicle, 6 Tips For Collecting Medical Patient Payments that provided useful advice on how to secure payments with low-cost yet effective techniques. But with patient financial responsibility growing rapidly we felt it was time to revisit the topic and explore more radical methods to improve payment rates.
Partner with Banks and Charities
You know better than anyone that out-of-pocket costs for patients, such as deductible and co-pay have gone up. What you may not know is that experts predict they will continue to rise over the immediate future. A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) determined that the average deductible for employer-sponsored health plans rose again last year by 4.5 percent to $1,573. This was from $1,505 in 2017. In short, they have more than doubled between 2008 and 2018 while wages have only risen by 26 percent.
The risk for you is that if your patients don’t meet their deductibles due to sticker shock, your business could be left without any reimbursement from the payer. This could be especially challenging if yours is a small operation with many patients under financial stress.
One of the creative ways some hospitals are countering this is by partnering with banks. Think about it. Patient bills are growing larger and larger, and your practice is unlikely to have the expertise to offer large financial plans. Banks already manage complex monthly payments with similar agreements such as car loans. What’s more, experts suggest that patients are more likely to trust a bank than a hospital with their finances.
Perhaps the biggest incentive for patients is that these loans from institutions such as Commerce Bank are interest-free, highly customizable, and don’t require credit checks. Keep in mind though that if the customer stops paying, the onus would fall back on to you to collect.
Another option is to partner with a charity program. Several practices have begun offering financial assistance to low-income patients by either teaming up with local relief organizations or by starting their own aid programs with the help of corporate sponsorship. Aside from releasing financial stress on your practice, this measure is also a morale booster for your staff.
Encourage Payment Upfront
While no one likes to ask for payment upfront from a potentially sick person, this billing strategy has reduced debts in many organizations. For instance, Mid State Orthopedic has improved its payment rate by 25% in two years with this change. Unless it’s an emergency, patients are more likely to pay before services have been rendered when a little urgency is established.
Start simple and train your staff to say, “How would you like to pay?” instead of “When would you like to pay?”
Modernize the Payment System
As hospital bills are growing larger, patients are demanding more modern options. Consider offering patients tablets attached to credit card machines with software featuring customizable payment plans. Aside from plastic, offer options such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and even digital currencies to connect with a generation that readily uses mobile phones for transactions. Also, try using email to send invoices or timely reminders with a clear cost breakdown analysis.
Consider Starting a Telehealth Department
Many practices are investing in low-cost telehealth departments where they deliver health-related services remotely using telecommunication technologies like Skype’s video chat. The advantages of this are two-fold. First, payment is collected upfront using digital payment tools like PayPal, which solves your non-payer problem. Second, it reduces demand on resources with fewer patients crowding the emergency room.
Not only does this investment allow your practice to be paid immediately, but it gives you access to a potentially unlimited pool of new customers, many of whom are in remote locations.
Use Patient Analytics
By using modern techniques to analyze clinical, financial, and supply chain data, your practice can learn to manage its resources more efficiently and hence maximize revenue.
Contact a Medical Collection Agency Faster
Experts suggest that most practices take 180 days before acting on patients who haven’t paid. This is ill-advised because your finance team may not have the specialized skills required to either locate or convince the customer to pay, especially six months after treatment.
Speaking to National Public Radio (NPR), Ken Hertz from the MGMA Health Care Consulting Group advised health professionals not wait longer than six to eight weeks before sending accounts to collections.
This is where we come in. As a medical collection agency with 23 years of experience, we understand that consistent recovery can be a lifeline for your practice. There are two reasons why we have loyal customers in the medical community. The first being our outstanding success rate that’s twice the industry average, and the second being our ethical recovery techniques exemplified by our “P.H.D. Philosophy” (Preserve Human Dignity).
While we let patients know you are serious about settling their account, we also engage with them in a manner that’s courteous and respectful. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. We are 100% HIPAA-compliant and have earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Keep in mind that we also offer pre-collection services. From billing to follow-ups with the customer or their insurance, we are trained to handle all avenues of your collection needs. Allow us to manage your receivables before they snowball into bad debt. Meanwhile, you can use that extra time to meet the challenges of running your practice.
You can call, email, or simply request a callback from one of the best and most trustworthy names in the business by visiting our contact page.