9 Steps to Improve Patient Collections

Watch Patient Collections 101 NowPatient A/R has been steadily increasing. If it hasn’t already, it will soon reach as much as 30% of your practice’s total accounts receivable. In addition, patients are paying a larger share of their healthcare costs—as much as 25-30%--out of pocket. Unfortunately, once a patient leaves your practice, the chances of collecting begin to fall to as low as 40%. In fact, many practices only collect about 20% of patient balances.Tweet this Kareo story

Use these proven strategies to improve your patient collections:

  1. Have a Clear Financial Policy: The great thing about a written policy is that it establishes clear responsibilities for both parties ahead of time. Yours should tell patients exactly what you expect in terms of who pays what and when. This policy should be provided to every new patient and to all patients once a year.
  2. Check Eligibility: Conducting eligibility checks and benefits prior to the visits gives you invaluable information. While the level of detail varies from payer to payer, you should always be able to find out if the patient is covered and what the copay amount is.
  3. Collect Copays at Check-in: Not only is collecting copays at check in a great way to reduce your patient A/R, it also keeps you compliant with your payer contracts, many of which require this. Setting up a process for this also reduces your collection overhead by eliminating statements and other follow up for patients who only have a copay.
  4. Collect Balance Due at Checkout: If you have enough information from the payer to collect co-insurance or the balance due on the deductible then do so. If not, then make sure the patient knows their responsibility and is prepared to pay that balance.
  5. Set Up Credit Card on File (CCOF): By putting CCOF in place, you can collect outstanding balances without the need to send statements. Patients need to sign an authorization form that provides the credit information and maximum amount to be charged along with a time period for which the authorization is valid.
  6. Compress Your Statement Cycle: Send patient statements as soon as you know the patient due amount. Don’t wait for a monthly cycle. Monthly billing lengthens your A/R, and it reduces your chances of getting paid.
  7. Offer Statement Options: Offer options of paper or electronic patient statements. Allow patients to choose the option that makes sense for them. You’re more likely get paid, and using electronic patient statements reduces your expenses as well.  Learn Three Ways to Improve A/R with Patient Statements.
  8. Provide Online Bill Pay: Over half of consumers pay other bills online, so why not yours. Online bill pay is fast, easy, and secure. Check with your vendor for online payment options.
  9. Consider Deposits for High-Dollar Procedures: Often, high-dollar procedures in the outpatient setting are planned. This gives you time to get authorization and gather more details from the payer about what the patient portion might be. Then, sit down with the patient to review coverage and collect a deposit or estimated charge.

In such uncertain times, you can’t afford to let any money you are owed slip through the cracks. A strong, efficient patient collections process can help ensure you get paid.


About the Author

Lea writes educational articles to help medical practices improve their businesses. In addition to Kareo, Lea has written for Medical Manager Health Systems, WebMD...

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