5 Collection Strategies That Won’t Ruin Your Relationship with Patients

October 27, 2014
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When patients have outstanding balances, it can be frustrating for all involved to collect that money in a manner that keeps everyone happy. Even the term “collections” brings to mind those scary debt-collector telephone calls. Even though you are technically seeking to “collect” payment from patients who may have outstanding balances, if you want to maintain positive and supportive relationships with them, it would be unwise to approach payments through a facade of intimidation and penalty.

When patients have outstanding balances, it can be frustrating for all involved to collect that money in a manner that keeps everyone happy. Even the term “collections” brings to mind those scary debt-collector telephone calls. Even though you are technically seeking to “collect” payment from patients who may have outstanding balances, if you want to maintain positive and supportive relationships with them, it would be unwise to approach payments through a facade of intimidation and penalty. Of course there are exceptions: sometimes extenuating circumstances will require more of an aggressive front on the part of the hospital, but to come out of the gate swinging in almost every case is a rookie mistake.

  • Collection Strategies – Be Proactive! Pre-Appointment Pay-Up.

One strategy that you can make use of right away is less about reacting to an instance of a missing payment, but preventing them in the first place! By providing information directly to the patient at the time they receive healthcare services, you are starting the payment conversation early and providing them actionable information about their responsibilities. At this time a very important conversation can occur: if the patient will need financial assistance, you can make use of these programs by setting up consultations for patients before they ever receive a bill – making it far less likely that they will end up delinquent. You can also set up an office workflow that makes it easy – and encouraged – for patients to pay right at the time of service.

  • Collection Strategies – Consider Online Payment Options

In today’s modern world, many people have “gone paperless” and handle all of their bills online through proprietary payment software. Every bill you could ever have can now be paid with just the click of a button, or, you can set up recurring payments through online banking and forget about dates altogether! The convenience of these models, so long as they have security certificates that protect consumer personal information, can extend to the payment of medical bills for patients who are comfortable with computers. Not every patient will embrace this option, but as more Gen Y’ers are seeking services, especially with Obamacare making it more likely than ever that they will, online payment options will be supportive and encouraging to this demographic especially.

  • Collection Strategies – Know Your ICD-10 Codes

With ICD-10 looming large, an important revenue cycle consideration will be adopting the new codes with accuracy and continuing to stay abreast of these changes and how they affect your hospital’s billing procedures. There are now software options available that can review your claims for coding compliance, helping you to identify troublesome claims and correcting them. Better yet, adopt technological tools that provide review before claims are ever submitted, making certain your claims are perfectly coded for maximum payment every time.

  • Collection Strategies – Know Your Rights and Responsibilities for Appealing Claim Denials

Appealing denied claims can be a time consuming and costly process, but when appeals are won, the benefits tend to outweigh the work upfront. Many denied claims remain denied – when, if they had been reviewed again upon denial, it may have been a relatively easy fix. Fixing errors and resubmitting can result in approval, and maybe one or two overturned denials doesn’t seem like much but they add up – if you continuous let denied claims fall to the wayside you’re likely losing less money than you’d ever invest in appealing them!

  • Collection Strategies – The Good Ol’ Discount

People love to think they’re getting a deal – especially on things they have to purchase, like their healthcare! By offering a discount or reduced costs for paying sooner rather than later, patients will be far more motivated to pay what they owe at the point of service, rather than letting it fall by the wayside. This is mutually beneficial to the hospital and the patient, and continues to foster positive and supportive relationships between the healthcare system and the consumers (patients). If you can’t wrangle offering discounts, at least make sure that patients are made aware of payment plans that can offset larger bills – by allowing patients to make monthly payments rather than pay a huge sum up front, you are continuing to provide supportive care to your patients long after they’ve left the hospital. If they feel taken care of, they’re more likely to pay up – and to return for services when they need them.

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