The financial burden on patients continues to grow — collecting payments from patients is a challenge. Collecting in a way that drives maximum revenue and maintains a strong patient/provider relationship is increasingly important. There are a variety of ways to enhance how you collect from patients that help with both — driving more payments and providing a high level of customer care.
Here are six ways to maximize patient payments. They might require some data science, but Sift makes that accessible.
1. Proactively Offer Payment Plans - Rather than waiting for a patient to fail to pay a bill, understand which patients will likely need payment plans and in what amount/duration. Proactively reach out and offer flexible payment options. A proactive approach and the availability of a payment plan works to increase the amount you’re likely to receive from the patient as well as build trust, working towards a stronger provider/patient relationship.
2. Offer Discounts - Identify which patients are likely unable to afford their bills and who are also unlikely to adhere to a payment plan. Proactively offer these patients discounts, based on the maximum they’re likely to pay. Offering a discount encourages patients who were unlikely to pay to pay some of their bill. In many cases, some is much better than nothing.
3. Call Patients At The Right Time - There are specific thresholds for when patients need a call to drive payments. Too early and the call seems irrelevant too late and the call is wasted. Multiple calls that happen too close together (or too far apart) also miss the mark. Understand the ideal cadence for contacting patients to have the most significant impact. Don’t waste your work effort on calls that don’t work (or that work against you).
4. Use Patients Preferred Method For Communication - Many patients don’t want a phone call but will welcome text messages or pay when they receive an email. Understand the preferred medium for each patient and reach out in the right way.
5. Make Paying Easy - Provide options for payments and easy online access. The less friction to payment, the better. Online payment portals have become table stakes, but additional options like paying via text message are growing in popularity.
6. Estimate Payment At Scheduling - It’s tricky to estimate what a patient will owe at scheduling (but incredibly helpful). If you can’t do that, flip it on its head. Understand how much a patient is likely to be able/willing to pay at scheduling and use that to drive how much you ask for upfront (or what kind of payment plan or discount you offer — at scheduling).
Providers of all sizes, as well as RCMs, will be challenged in 2020 to drive better results in patient collections — any of these additions to your strategy will have an impact on payments and progress.