Frustrated by medical collection failures? Try these smart solutions to help your clinic get paid faster!
Imagine how much money your independent medical practice could be making in co-payments alone if you were able to collect those payments at check-in or before the patient leaves. If you see 25 patients a day, at an average primary care co-pay of $24, the totals add up to $600 a day, $3,000 a week, $12,000 a month, or $144,000 a year (with specialists, of course, bringing in substantially more). The challenge comes from the need to collect that money from patients who either don't understand your policies, misunderstand their financial responsibilities, or fail to receive the insurance coverage they are counting on to pay the bill. It's critical that your front-office personnel collect these co-pays when they're due. Here are 5 smart practices to help them do that.
1. Start the Process While Setting Appointments
The first step is to ensure co-pay collection occurs right from the beginning, during the initial appointment-setting phase. Have your staff collect patients' basic insurance information and check eligibility during that first conversation. The staffer can then explain the patient's co-pay responsibility so there are no misunderstandings at the time of the appointment when the services are rendered.
2. Check Insurance
Errors in insurance data can cause serious communication glitches that leave your patients owing a higher co-pay than they're expecting to make. Always make sure the insurance information gets run on every appointment scheduled, not just the first time a patient makes a visit. This ensures that the co-pay amount you communicate to your patient is always accurate.
3. Offer Multiple Ways to Pay
Your patients may be perfectly able and willing to pay with one method but not another method. If you limit your payment options, you limit your ability to collect co-pays. Make sure your office is offering multiple payment methods such as credit/debit, cash/check, online payment, and kiosk payment. Those elusive co-pays could be just a few mouse clicks or smartphone touches away.
4. Make Your Policies Known
Nothing will make a patient's blood boil faster than the notion that you have somehow been ambiguous or unclear about your payment policies -- until they suddenly have to make a co-pay that they weren't expecting. It's up to your office to document a clear, detailed payment policy, call that policy to each patient's attention, go over the information with patients, and have patients agree to and sign an acknowledgement form.
5. Tell Your Staff What to Say
You want your staff to be armed and prepared to have those sometimes difficult conversations about financial responsibility and payments. Certain things need to be communicated during those conversations if you want to receive timely payments. One recommendation is to create scripts for the staff that include specific policy statements, questions, answers, rebuttals, and requests for proof of insurance and co-payment if applicable. The more prepared your staff is to clear up any confusion and specify what your office needs right then and there, the more likely you are to collect those co-pays.
Follow these smart tips and you may be pleasantly surprised by just how much easier it is to collect co-pays when they're due (instead of chasing after patients for months and possibly ending up empty-handed).PCIS GOLD can make the process even easier through our advanced practice management and electronic health records systems. Contact us today to find out how we can help you make your office more successful at collecting co-pays!