This article about new patient billing methods was written by Angie Carter with NexTrust.
Communication is easier than it’s ever been, but a lot of practices aren’t taking full advantage of two of today’s most effective mediums of communication: email and texting. Patients, like all other consumers, spend a lot of time on their phones; it’s where they keep in touch with friends and family, as well as businesses they work with regularly.
Most practices rely heavily on phone calls to contact their patients about appointment reminders, insurance issues, etc. But many adults now prefer to communicate via email or text. Often a quick phone call will do the trick, but email and texting gets your foot in the door a lot more often. Furthermore, people are far more likely to respond to a text or email than a voicemail.
Here are a few ways to build your contact list at your practice to improve communication with patients, ensuring greater patient satisfaction and better cash flow.
- Collect cellphone numbers & email addresses during new patient registration.
Consider making these required fields. Allow the option to fill out more than one email address or mobile number as well, since most households have several. It would also be helpful to quickly explain why you need this information. BillFlash allows you to send out regular statements and eBills through email and text, and you can also quickly update your patients on any last-minute changes happening at your practice.
If you have a newsletter or regularly send out practice updates, make sure patients know about these as well. This is another opportunity to ensure you have the information you need to better communicate with your patients.
- Ask for an email address & cellphone number any time you confirm an appointment.
Even if your current patients have already given you this information, use appointment confirmations as an opportunity to verify the information you have on file is current. Email addresses change all the time, so it’s crucial to ensure they’re up to date so you know your messages are being received. And for patients who haven’t yet provided this information, this is a good time to tout the benefits of being digitally connected.
- Encourage mail-only patients to go paperless.
A huge barrier to patients paying their bills on time—or at all—is that it’s often not as simple to pay a medical bill as it is to pay, say, a utility bill. BillFlash simplifies this process tremendously, both for the patients and your practice. By providing an email address and cellphone number, patients can more easily stay current on their medical bills and procedures.
- Ask patients to provide feedback on your website.
Give your patients a space to express their thoughts at their convenience. Include a form on your website for patients to fill out—which would include their email address and phone number—and add the info they provide to your database. You could also post signs throughout your office encouraging patients to visit your website to provide feedback about the care they received that day.
- Add cellphone number/email to check-in sheet.
Most practices require patients to sign in whenever they come in for an appointment. Consider adding a column or two that asks for their email and cellphone number. At the top of the column you could include a note that says something like “Want to receive appointment reminders via text or email?” to reiterate the benefit patients will receive by providing this information.
- Offer patients an incentive to provide their email address & cellphone number.
People love free stuff—that’s a given. Try running a fishbowl incentive every few months. All patients would need to do is drop their email address and/or cellphone number into a bowl and they’ll be entered into a drawing to win a prize. And why reward just the patients? Incentivize your office staff to collect this information as well.
Everyone has a cellphone number and email address, but it does take some effort to collect them. But it’s effort that rewards you many times over, as this makes it easier to keep patients in the loop and ensure you get paid. BillFlash makes it easy to automate patient billing and payments—including sending reminders via email or text—to improve the financial health of your practice.
BillFlash is integrated into the EZclaim billing application. Click here to view a video that discusses the details.
For more information about new patient billing methods and sending electronic bill notifications through text and email, contact EZclaim or their statement and payment services partner, BillFlash, at 435-940-9123 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As Patient Payment Responsibility continues to increase, sending patients to collections efficiently & effectively is more critical to the financial health of your practice than ever before. Here are some helpful tips to optimize your patient collections process.
- Communicate your collection policy upfront
- Integrate your collections process with your billing
- Consider offering discounts for self-pay patients
- Accept multiple forms of payment
- Offer multiple payment options
- Require patients to make “good faith” payments
Practices that employ the following practices can help prevent sending patients to collections or make the collections process much more efficient and effective.
1.Communicate your collection policy upfront
Prior to patient appointments, clearly communicate your collection policy. This helps the patient plan ahead to pay in full in the specified time period. This is especially important for patients that must meet a deductible or coinsurance amounts towards the out of pocket expenses. When patients are aware in advance, they are more likely to make some of their payment upfront. In addition to pre-visit communications, specify your collections with signs in your office, intake forms, information documents and on your website.
2. Integrate your collections process with your billing
The current process to send patients to collections is tedious, time-consuming and prone to error and miscommunications. That’s because staff must constantly and manually pull lists of patients eligible for collections and send all the necessary patient information to the agency. Plus, all the complex back and forth communications, followed by posting accounting for the payments.
Leveraging an automated patient billing system like BillFlash, you can create rules based on aging and minimums that queue up patients eligible for collections and send all the necessary information to begin the collections process. Practices can manage the entire collections process right in the patient billing system including setting rules, approving accounts for collections, and reports. To learn more, call NexTrust BillFlash at 435-940-9123 or visit collections.billflash.com
3. Consider offering discounts for self-pay patients
While insured patients receive discounts through their insurance provider, self-pay patients are responsible for their full payment. As an incentive to pay bills in a timely manner, offering self-pay patients a discount to pay in a timely fashion could reduce accounts sent to collections, improve the patient payment experience, and help improve your cash flow.
4. Accept Multiple Forms of Payment
Limitations in accepted payment methods and payment options can be a liability for your practice in getting paid quickly, and sometimes, getting paid at all. You can remove these barriers by incorporating payment systems that make it easy to accept all card types as well as payment plans. The BillFlash Billing and Payment system lets you offer these payment options to your patients simply. Patient billing and payments can then be synced with EZClaim because of the existing integration with BillFlash.
5. Offer Multiple Payment Options
Patients may find themselves in collections because out of pocket expenses are often much higher than they expected and can sometimes be thousands of dollars. Offering various payment methods and payment plans improves the patient experience and overall satisfaction.
Limitations in accepted payment methods and payment options can be a liability for your practice in getting paid quickly, and sometimes, getting paid at all. You can remove these barriers by incorporating payment systems that make it easy to accept all card types as well as payment plans. The BillFlash Billing and Payment system lets you offer these payment options to your patients simply. Patient billing and payments can then be streamlined because of the existing integration with BillFlash.
6. Require patients to make ‘good faith’ payments
If a patient is not paying their balance in full, requiring them to pay a portion of the payment is a helpful first step in keeping their commitment to fully meeting their financial responsibility. These small steps not only make the debt more manageable for patients but creates payment momentum for future payments so that at 90 or 120 days they owe much less and are less likely to be candidates for collections.
With increasingly more patient payment responsibility, the risk for patients being sent collections can rise as well. So, helping your patients avoid collections and optimizing your collections process when collections become necessary, can bring big financial returns
Call NexTrust today 435-940-9123 or email at email@example.com or go to collections.billflash.com to learn how collections are now integrated with automated patient billing and payments to improve the financial health of your practice.
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Patient Payments – Written by Stephanie Cremeans of EZClaim
Why do I have a balance? The golden question regarding patient payments every physician’s office staff member dreads beginning January 1st. Unfortunately, your patients are not usually savvy when it comes to the nuts and bolts of their contract, and they are frustrated. They thought their plan was good, but now they have a bill.
68% of patients failed to fully pay off medical bill balances in 2016, up from 53 percent in 2015, and 49 percent in 2014. This number is expected to climb to 95% by 2020
Source: Patients May be the New Payers, But Two in Three Do Not Pay Their Hospital Bills in Full, TransUnion Healthcare, June 26, 2017
So here we are, in 2020. Let’s make sure your office is equipped and able to collect patient payments for services rendered rather than becoming a part of this scary statistic.
Begin with the basics. Make sure that your staff understands these key terms and is comfortable explaining them to your patients.
Deductible – The deductible is the amount the patient has to pay for covered services before the insurance plan pays. Some insurance plans will apply an office visit to the deductible, others will not. Family plans typically have an individual and family deductible.
Copay & Coinsurance – These are both the portion the patient will be responsible for after their deductible has been met. Copays are a set, flat fee. Coinsurance is a set percentage that the patient will pay.
Max Out of Pocket – This is the limit of what a patient will pay for covered services within a plan year. Again, on family plans, there may be an individual max and family max.
Keep in mind your staff will not know the details of your patients’ plans, nor should they be expected to! In the ever-changing world of health insurance, our patients need to become better consumers. So just being able to explain these key terms and why they create a patient balance will help them become better insurance plan shoppers!
Use your tools. Look into using Integrated Eligibility (available through your billing software and your clearinghouse). This will allow your staff to check remaining deductible balances, copay and coinsurance amounts with the click of a button. These results allow practices to confidently collect at the time of service rather than spending time and money on sending statements and working collections after the visit.
Create a plan and stick to it. Use this time to review the efficiency of your patient collections plan. Are you using an outdated plan or policy? Have you considered offering payment plans to patients with an HSA card kept on file? Make sure that your employees understand how important patient collections are to the practice, educate them on the plan and support them when they hold patients accountable to the patient collections policy.
For more information on how EZClaim can help you with this journey, schedule time with our sales team. Ready to get started? Download your free 30-day demo today!