Getting the Most Out of Your Patient Finance Team

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The growing popularity of high-deductible health plans means more and more patients are paying out of their own pockets for medical care. For practices, the added pressure on patients can directly impact revenue.

Your patient finance team works hard driving revenue for the practice. But having a patient finance team and having an effective patient finance strategy are two different things.

If your office doesn’t have a formal strategy for patient financing and collections, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table. In addition, it’s likely that your staff are spending more time and effort on collecting payments than they have to.

What can you do to help out your finance team (and improve revenue in the process)? Here are some valuable tips:

Be up front about costs.

Better payment transparency allows people to anticipate and plan for high medical costs. Improving transparency could mean anything from offering a cost estimate before a procedure to providing a medical financing consultant to discuss payment options with patients. When possible, publishing prices for procedures on your website can help answer a lot of questions as well.

Transparency can do more than just make billing easier. Many people put off treatment they need or would benefit from because they misunderstand how much it’ll cost. When people can plan for costs, they’re more likely to walk in the door. That’s more revenue for your practice.

Use appointment reminders for billing.

If your patient is carrying a balance, let them know before they arrive. That way, they can prepare for payment ahead of time.

At the end of the day, paying for medical care comes down to budgeting. Billing reminders that are tied to appointment reminders can give a patient some advanced notice to find room in their budget.

Leverage technology.

A billing management software system can cut down on the amount of manual labor that your medical finance team has to undertake while pursuing overdue payments.

By tracking overdue payments and automating late fees, this software can streamline your collections process, freeing up finance team members to do more important work. Of course, billing management software comes with a price tag, so plan accordingly.

Streamline lending.

One fact that can’t be overlooked by any practice: most people today just don’t have an extra thousand dollars in the bank. When you streamline payment through a third-party lender, you expand access to care.

Most lenders offer deferred interest terms for up to a year or more. When your patient signs on with a healthcare lender, you receive payment when the loan is disbursed (from there, servicing and payment is taken out of your hands). However, not everyone will qualify for a loan — most healthcare lenders deny around half of their applicants for having low or no credit.

Offer payment plans.

Paying over time allows patients who don’t have a lot of disposable income to get the care they need without financing through a bank or lender.

Nearly one in five consumers in the U.S. today have no credit score, and more than half don’t have what lenders consider a “good” score, according to CFED. These patients have limited access to healthcare lending and are often forced to accept loans with difficult conditions.

Patient financing payment plans represent an alternative to that system. A third-party payment plan provider like HFD can help structure and launch a pay-over-time plan for your patients that automates debit payments, manages risk of default, and offers flexibility and transparency to borrowers.

Pay-over-time plans can help practices capture more revenue by making payment possible for people with no or low credit. These plans can be tailored to support your current finance department operations.

Send non-payers to patient collections.

Unfortunately, some clients aren’t going to pay their bill. It’s important for a practice to know when to cut their losses on collecting from patients and hand them over to a collections agency.

In order to remain fair and unbiased, it’s important to have a written policy with a set a time limit for referring past-due balances to collections. After 90 days or so, it’s unlikely that your staff is going to receive payment on their own. Receiving a notice from a third-party agency can make the point that you’re ready to do what it takes to collect payment.

These six tips will help you capture more revenue and get paid for your work. However, setting your medical finance team up for success isn’t easy. Partnering with a company like HFD can help make implementing changes and structuring pay-over-time options simple.

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