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Terms of Service: 4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Payment Plans

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As the number of patients with high-deductible health insurance policies rises, so does the impact of medical payments that go uncollected.

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Offering payment plans can help your medical office manage these financial hurdles. Modern payment plan methods and technologies allow you to collect, process, and post these payments easily and automatically by charging the patient's debit or credit card. These solutions alleviate stress for everyone involved—patients now have a convenient way to spread their financial burden out over time, while your medical staff can stop chasing after payments and processing that information by hand.

Even with all the obvious benefits provided by medical payment plans, it's important to recognize that they still have to be set up and implemented properly from the beginning before you can fully realize those benefits. Here are four best practices to streamline the process and help ensure productive results.

1. Communicate With Your Patients

Miscommunication remains a constant challenge to medical bill collection; in fact, many health and wellness providers don't even discuss payment responsibility issues with their patients before administering care. You can't expect your patients to obey the rules of a payment plan if they don't even know what those rules are. It's critical that you go over the details of a patient’s payment plan options beforehand, ideally in the context of your overall payment policy. Patients must know how much they're expected to pay up front, the amounts and processing dates of their monthly payments, and the date that the plan will finally come to a close. Send an automated email or phone reminders to help your patients keep on top of this information.

2. Automate the Process

The extra convenience of patient payment plans can turn into extra headaches for your medical office if you haven't taken the necessary steps to automate that payment process from beginning to end. Fortunately, it's easy to do that when you make use of an automated practice management software platform. The PCIS GOLD PM provides a comprehensive automated process that includes initial setup, charging the patient's card, processing payments, and then posting those payments to the patient’s account. Freeing your office employees from these tasks not only allows them to focus on other work, it also helps to remove human error from the entire process.

3. Set Clear, Well-Defined Limits

How you set up the details and parameters of each medical payment plan is up to you. The advantages of this flexibility are offset by the potential pitfalls of omitting critical information—omissions that can lead to major misunderstandings and even payment failures. Make sure to build a minimum monthly payment amount and payoff period into each and every plan. When everyone is on the same page about these limits, payment plans are much more likely to proceed as intended.

4. Collect Partial Payment Up Front

Nothing smooths out cash flow kinks and speeds up the payment process more effectively than collecting partial payment up front. Develop an upfront payment policy as part of your overall system, and make sure to address this requirement in your initial discussions with patients. You can ask for a set fee or set a percentage of the total treatment cost. That initial payment gets the ball rolling on the payment journey and establishes a pattern of making regular payments according to your predetermined schedule.

Medical payment plans make good business sense for your practice while also helping patients get the care they need when they need it. If you'd like to start off on the right foot with a state-of-the-art automated payment system, contact PCIS GOLD for assistance.