Is Your Patient Collections Process Stuck in the 90s? Now is the Perfect Time to Update

The digital world is here, in fact, it has been here for well over 25 years. With the launch of Amazon and eBay in the mid-90s, and PayPal a few years later, the evolution of our virtual shopping and checkout experience continues to improve, evolve and adapt…at lightning speed. The COVID-19 crisis has only reinforced this phenomena. These days, you can scroll through social platforms like Instagram or Facebook, see something you want and with a couple of clicks, have that item delivered to your front door, sometimes as quickly as a few hours!

Moreover, you can set up everyday items like pet food and toilet paper to be delivered on a monthly schedule and can order groceries online and have delivered that day. Industry leaders have upped the ante by providing consumers with instant, simple, and gratifying purchasing experiences, forcing every other business category to follow suit…or die a slow painful demise such as with Sears, Pier 1 Imports, J.C. Penny and many others.

Except for healthcare.

Customers, or patients in this case, are often forced to deal with the same archaic, cumbersome, confusing and unevolved payment processes as decades earlier. The typical scenario is they visit their doctor, pay their co-pay and a few weeks later receive a statement. Since the statement is confusing and the patient is unsure if their insurance has paid, they place it in a pile of other papers to deal with later. They only remember the bill again when they receive a final notice to pay, sent by the doctor’s office or a collections agency.

The patient quickly rifles through their stacks of papers to find the right bill, then scan it for a URL to pay online or a phone number to pay by phone. Except there is no URL or bill pay phone number. Nothing but an office telephone number and a mailing address to mail their payment. A week or more later when the patient finally finds their checkbook, envelope and a stamp, they drop their payment in the mail with fingers crossed, hoping it will be received.

For the brick and mortar medical practice, it isn’t much easier. From manually printing, folding and mailing patient statements to discussing patient balances and taking credit card numbers over the phone, the whole process is reminiscent of the DMV, circa 1985.

But there’s hope. By incorporating these five suggestions, you can bring your patient collection process into the 2020’s:

1. Add online payments

According to recent MGMA data, 52% of patients prefer some type of electronic billing, while 90% of providers still use traditional mail. Adopting a digital strategy will not only improve your patients’ experience, it will increase the amount collected.

2. Adopt text and email payment reminders

Email statements allow for quick, online balance resolution and text balance reminders ensure patients receive alerts regarding outstanding balances long before they receive a paper statement, while their visit is still top of mind.

3. Outsource patient statements

Printing, folding and mailing patient statements takes a significant amount of time. Redirect staff resources by outsourcing your patient statements. Third party companies offer clear, easy-to-read statements that are printed and delivered for just a little more than the cost of a stamp, paper and envelope.

4. Provide multiple payment options

In today’s rapidly moving world, convenience is everything. Provide your patients multiple ways (online, in-person, by mail or mobile device) to pay so you can collect more, faster. When patients are looking to make payment, ensure its easy for them.

5. Incorporate payment plans


As patient balances continue to grow and unemployment levels rise, it’s important to have patient payment plans in place to allow patients to pay a portion of their balance each month. By providing patients with a set-it-and-forget-it automated monthly payment program, you take the burden off them to remember one more detail and you can get paid more consistently.

The good news is that bringing your patient collections into the 2020’s improves the overall patient experience and enables your practice to get paid what you’re owed, faster. These improvements in efficiencies will also allow your staff to refocus their attention on your patients and other impactful areas of your practice. Kareo can assist you with making improvements to your patient collections - start here to find out how. You can also download our Patient Collections Blueprint for Success here.

As patient engagement and patient collections continue to evolve, make sure your practice leverages the most effective technology available to allow your patients to pay effortlessly. Like the mullet haircut of the 90s, taking a limited approach to patient collections should become a thing of the past!

About the Author

Kevin Clinton is the Director of Marketing, Payment Solutions and joined Kareo in 2019. He has more than 20 years of experience in Strategic Marketing and is...

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