2014 will be a winning or losing game for medical practices – depending on their patient payment policies and efficiency with collecting patient payments.

Patient responsibility has spiked over the years and has taken a quantum leap in 2014 with annual deductibles of $5,000 and more.  Patient share of responsibility beyond the deductible can be as much as 20%.  So if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to beef up your patient collection procedures and track performance to ensure you are collecting at the time of service.  Here are a few key ways to get paid sooner rather than later.

  1. Train staff on how to ask for money.  Give them scripts and practice so they are comfortable.  Help them understand it is appropriate to expect payment at time of service. I mean, like where else do you go and not pay for services at the time you receive them?
  2. Start at the beginning.   Staff should explain your payment policies when they are scheduling a new patient.  For established patients that are scheduling appointments on the phone, remind them of an existing balance and inform the patient that payment of an existing balance must be paid at the time of their scheduled visit – if not paid in advance.  You might even consider asking the patient to pay their previous balance with a charge card at the time they are scheduling their appointment and be ahead of the game.
  3. Plan ahead.  Every day assign someone in the office the responsibility of reviewing the next day’s schedule  to verify insurance coverage and plan for
  4. Use technology.   Automate confirmation phone calls or text messages to be placed 48 hours before a patient appointment.  The script used should include a message reminding the patient that any balance remaining on their account must be paid at the time of the visit.
  5. Avoid exceptions.   Keep providers out of the payment discussion.   Help physicians by giving them the script for a reply to patients that want to talk about payments.  Something as simple as “Mary, my main concern is your health, our billing department manages collection.  You can speak with someone about your account before you leave today.”
  6. Establish goals and celebrate.   Establish daily and monthly collection goals based on a percentage of what is due each day.    Move the percentage mark each week until staff hits the 95% mark on collecting what is actually due each day.   When they accomplish this 4 our 5 days in a week, celebrate.  Give everyone in the department an unexpected bonus such as $100 gift certificate at a local mall or Amazon.  Then let everyone select a time when one of them can leave one hour early (with pay) during next month.  This is great for keeping team work at a high level and showing appreciation.

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