We see it all the time, a patient visits their doctor’s office to seek treatment and then receives a bill in the mail for their portion of the medical expenses. When a patient receives the bill, they are often alarmed at the amount that is due and may not have the funding to pay the balance in full. In a recent study conducted by UCLA, it is estimated that there is $140 billion in medical debt that has been reported on credit reports (VeryWellHealth, 2021). In fact, this research study found that one in every five consumers was already in collections prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As cases of COVID-19 increased in 2020, many consumers feared visiting their doctor’s office that they avoided their routine office visits, and/or lost their employment further impacting a patient’s ability to pay for any medical expenses. As providers continued to keep their offices open, many providers witnessed a decrease in patient volume while also seeing a reduction in revenue. According to a recent article published in Medical Economics (2021), 55% of practices were impacted by a decrease in revenue while 60% were impacted by a decrease in overall patient volume. Combined with the number of patients that were already in medical debt and/or collections, many practices faced a financial crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to become more stable in early 2021, many patients felt comfortable returning to visit their doctor and/or were able to secure employment, providing patients with employer-sponsored insurance coverage. With the current rise of COVID-19 cases increasing again, practices are left with the ongoing challenges of attempting to maximize revenue collection with the risk of history repeating itself and the patient’s inability to pay their medical bills or avoiding their office visits.
Contrary to belief, consumers actually want to pay their medical bills and are seeking more payment options. According to the 2020 Trends in Healthcare Annual Report, providers and consumers must adapt to a new payment experience in order to enhance how they interact with one another. In addition, more than half of consumers would consider changing their provider for a better payment experience. One may ask, what constitutes a better payment experience? Consumers are showing a higher demand for contactless payments and the ability to work with their providers to create a payment plan or auto-payment options. Unfortunately, many providers have not adapted to their consumer’s needs and continue to operate with traditional methods creating dissatisfaction amongst their consumers
How can providers change their operations to facilitate a more consumer-friendly experience for their patients? Front-office staff play a pivotal role when interacting with patients and should be collecting up-to-date contact information to ensure patients are communicated with effectively, have the most recent insurance data to avoid any processing delays, and should collect a patient’s consent ahead of time for new features such as eBills, texting, and payment preferences. EZ Claim customers can streamline their revenue collection opportunities by partnering with BillFlash for innovative billing opportunities and various payment collection features that consumers highly desire. While nobody can predict if this recent wave of COVID-19 cases will lead to another quarantine phase or not, it is important for providers and consumers to enhance how they interact with one another to create solutions for healthcare needs.
For more information about automated patient statements and patient payment options, contact EZClaim, NexTrust BillFlash, GetPaid@BillFlash.com, or call BillFlash at 435.940.9123 (Option 3). For more details about EZClaim’s medical billing software, visit their website, e-mail their support team, or call them at 877.650.0904.
Hui, K. (2021). Americans owe $140 billion in medical debt. Here’s how to avoid it. Very Well Health. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/medical-debt-medicaid-study-5194846
InstaMed (2021). The Trends in Healthcare Payments (11th Annual Report) 2020. Retrieved from https://www.instamed.com/white-papers/trends-in-healthcare-payments-annual-report/
Luz, M. (2021). How an effective revenue cycle management strategy can help reduce burnout. Medical Economics. Retrieved from https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/how-an-effective-revenue-cycle-management-strategy-can-help-reduce-burnout
If your New Year’s resolution is to get your practice back into tip-top shape, now is the time to determine your best ‘recipe’ for billing and payment success. In the spirit of the holidays, where award-winning recipes are part of the season, we have included our proven ‘recipe’ for billing and payment success:
– EZClaim billing software
– Patient statements
– Text & email eBills
– Online payments
– Payment plans
– Stored payments
– Automated payments
– Integrated Collection Services
Begin with EZClaim practice management software. Add integrated patient statements, and the ability to text and e-mail eBills. Then, mix in online payments, payment plans, automatic payments, and stored payments. Bake for 30-90 days, and watch your revenue rise! If needed, add a ‘dash’ of Integrated Collection Services to increase your serving amount.
Shape your billing and payment success by adding Pay Services, which will help your practice thrive financially in the new year (More details in this 60-second video). Also, view the Integrated Collection Services Video to learn how you can begin automating and simplifying the patient collections process.
OK, you might have found that a creative use of ‘recipe’, but you probably really want to see the Gingerbread cookie recipe in the photo. So, here it is:
– 1/2 cups softened butter
– 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
– 1/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1 large egg
– 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon ground ginger
– 2-1/4 cups of flour
– 1/2 cup molasses
– 1 ‘dash’ of love
Cream butter and brown sugar together. Stir in molasses, then the egg. In a separate bowl, mix flour with all the spices. Stir in butter/sugar mix. If dough is too moist, add 2 tablespoons of flour.
Knead dough lightly, then chill for 40 minutes. Shape the dough into desired shapes. Bake at 350F until tops are ‘set’ (abut 8-12 minutes). Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 minutes before indulging! (If you don’t eat them all in one ‘sitting’, store them in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to one month!).
[ Click here to download this delicious Gingerbread cookie recipe. (Also, we would love to see pics of your decorated cookies. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org) ].
As we approach the holiday season, EZClaim hopes that you are able to enjoy this time with your families!
EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support. Combined, they help improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit EZClaim’s website, e-mail them, or call a representative today at 877.650.0904.
The SIX KEYS to sustaining your practice through the COVID-19 pandemic are online payments, Telehealth, automation tools, cyber protection, financial aid, and a good patient experience.
When Coronavirus first started to impact medical practices across the country, providers quickly put temporary solutions in place to ensure they were still able to see patients safely. As the pandemic endured, some of these “temporary” solutions became a “normal” part of doing business. While we can’t predict exactly how COVID-19 will affect us in the future, one thing is becoming clearer every day: Some of the changes that have been made in the past few months will shape how healthcare is managed after the global health crisis is over.
So, it’s time to start thinking long-term with your COVID-19 strategy. Here are six ‘keys’ for sustaining your practice right now that will continue to be important after the pandemic is over.
1. ONLINE PAYMENTS
Most businesses already process a good amount of their payments online (including EZClaim), but healthcare has been slow to adapt in this area. Practices no longer have the luxury of taking their time adopting digital payment options. It’s time to give patients what they’ve been wanting for years: the ability to pay their bills online.
Because the pandemic is still with us, contactless payments have surged. No-touch payments are an easy way to reduce the spread of germs, and most people already have the tools they need to complete these types of payments: phones, computers, and credit cards.
Online payments are encouraged even when you’re meeting patients in the office. EZClaim customers can easily facilitate this with LinkPay. The process is easy and can be done once an appointment is made.
Here’s LinkPay in three simple steps:
1) Create a customized payment link with the required amount
2) Email or text the link to the patient before their visit
3) Patient pays the required amount, which is immediately confirmed and processed
COVID-19 demanded contactless payments for safety, but now patients now expect them for convenience. Medical practices will need online payments if they are to stay relevant in the future.
Telehealth threw providers a lifeline when patients stopped coming into the office. The government acted quickly to relax Telehealth reimbursement policies so providers would be paid just as much for a Telehealth visit as they would for an in-office visit.
Congress is hoping to make these changes permanent. Whether they succeed or not, plan on keeping Telehealth as an option for your patients. Because Telehealth is not just useful during a pandemic, it’s great during normal life, too. Not all visits require an in-person encounter, and patients of all ages can benefit from the convenience of not having to physically leave their homes to get the medical care they need.
Patients have become used to having Telehealth as an option. Keeping it as an option going forward will set you apart from other practices.
3. AUTOMATION TOOLS
Chances are you are working with fewer people than normal. So, with fewer people to handle your billing and payments, your best option is to automate whatever you can.
This could mean setting up AutoPay for patients you see regularly, so they don’t have to manually pay their bill every time. It could also mean setting up a payment plan, in which a fixed amount will be paid automatically every month until the balance is paid off. It could also mean outsourcing your collections.
Automation doesn’t mean you lose control. Rather, it gives your staff more time to manage other essential operations. EZClaim customers have all of these automation options available to them through BillFlash.
4. CYBER PROTECTION
With digital tools becoming more prevalent, it is more important than ever to make sure your systems are protected. Hackers are out in full force right now, so it is imperative that you have proper malware and anti-virus software in place to protect your practice, your patients, and your employees. Do your homework on the tech companies you work with, too. Protecting your practice and your patients should be a top priority!
Of course, your staff will need to be up-to-date on HIPAA protocols, as well. Make sure you are doing everything you need to protect patient privacy online as well as offline.
5. FINANCIAL AID
Some practices are struggling financially and may need government aid to get them through the current crisis. Keep an eye on government funds that are available and stay informed on their different requirements.
If you haven’t already, consider applying for a line of credit. This is a standard operating procedure—even during normal times—and can help protect you from further financial disruptions in the future. No one knows how long this pandemic will last, so having a line of credit to fall back on during the coming months and years could be a game-changer for your practice.
6. A GOOD PATIENT EXPERIENCE
Above all, you need happy patients. That is true whether we are in a recession or not. Happy patients are more likely to pay their bills, more likely to return for future care, and more likely to recommend you to family and friends.
So, as you make some of the changes you made during the pandemic permanent, make sure you are still doing the little things to ensure a positive patient experience. These include:
• Keep wait times short
• Maintain eye contact during visits to assure patients that you care
• Be transparent about payment expectations and insurance, as well as what you’re doing to keep patients and staff safe
• Allow patients to pay using their preferred payment method
• Offer payment plans in lieu of paying large bills in one lump sum
A positive patient experience will be key in bringing your patients back to the office as the global health crisis continues.
NexTrust from BillFlash offers a variety of innovative billing and payments solutions for EZClaim customers. Visit billflash.com or e-mail them at Sales@BillFlash.com to learn more about how you can get paid more, get paid faster, and ensure you have the online tools you need to thrive during the pandemic.
For details and features about EZClaim’s medical billing software, or the other partners they have integrated into their billing solution, visit their website.
[ Written by Kathy Scott, Marketing Manager at BillFlash and NexTrust, Inc. ]