As a practice owner, you are aware that traditional methods of billing patients, such as mailing paper statements and bills, are expensive and that collection agencies take a significant chunk of anything they manage to collect. You also probably look at your accounts receivable report every month and wonder what you can do to improve that number and make it easier for your patients to pay you.
So as a practice owner, what can you do to maintain and even increase patient satisfaction while also generating the revenue you need to grow?
Patient financial engagement is the communication between your office and your patients that attempts to help educate your patients and offer them payment options. Many practices choose to have signs in the waiting area about the payment expected or have their patients fill out paperwork, but many leave it to their front desk team members.
However, managing payments over the phone is difficult, tedious, and takes your team members away from what they are good at -- providing excellent patient care. You also have to be aware of potential HIPAA violations when it comes to communicating with patients.
Many practices still require patients to call during normal business hours to make a credit card payment. Not only is this inconvenient for the patient, it opens up the possibility of data-entry errors made by the office manager who may key in the credit card number or billing amount incorrectly.
So how do you, as a practice owner, improve your financial engagement with your patients and also increase their satisfaction and hopefully referrals. Start with these general steps.
It all starts with asking patients for their email address when they are making an appointment and when you have them in the office. After that, you can follow these steps:
- Provide patients with secure online bill pay.
- Provide a payment link on email reminders and paper statements.
- Give patients a pay-over-time option.
For your practice, we recommend eliminating the double entry, which is when you have to show that patients have paid their bill in multiple systems. One example is when your team processes payment on your credit card terminal but still has to update your practice management system.
We also advocate getting rid of binders or spreadsheets that include patient payment information. This does not mean just recycling them or throwing them away, but shredding and securely disposing of the information.
Many of our clients ask how a proactive patient financial engagement strategy can save their practice money. We tell them that it cuts down on mailings sent, it reduces the burden on your front office team, and it cuts down on time spent making often unanswered or unreturned phone calls between office staff and patients.
With a few simple changes to the way your practice collects payments, you will hopefully start seeing an increase in bills paid on time and patient satisfaction simultaneously. By simply implementing patient financial engagement processes such as the ones listed here, you'll begin to see your practice grow.
Cynthia Klacking is the marketing and brand manager at Corral Solutions.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.