Billing as patient communications? It better be.
Your statements to patients are part of your patient communications system. And a very important part where payments are concerned.
Just like a recall letter or a follow-up call, we need to get their attention and get them to take action.
Resetting deductible are causing a problem
As of January 1, insurance checks are becoming a rarity. The EOB with ‘applied to deductible’ printed on it, instead of a check, are on their way and will be the majority of filed claims for several months. Practices need to collect more from patients than ever before and that fact needs to be communicated to patients.
Practices also need to be ready for the patient response (PAYMENT!) when the patient is ready to respond.
How many payments are missed?
There are several reasons why patients have a hard time paying:when they are ready to pay:
- Staff is on the phone with another patient making a new appointment
- Phone is busy with a doctor calling you about another patient
- Staff is calling an insurance company to follow-up on claims
- Staff is talking to a patient that is in the office
- Staff is rearranging your schedule to accommodate a future change
- Staff is confirming appointments
- A call with technical support
- A drug rep is trying to schedule a lunch and learn and taking a food order
- Staff is explaining a billing question to a patient
- You are closed (2/3rds of the day)
Spend 10 minutes listening in the front desk/reception area and see how many more can be identified.
A patient communications system can solve these issues
Your patients need your help to change their behavior and communicate in a more effective way. Most patients have only ever called your office, they need to know (and I mean way more than once) that there is a better way. The most effective way to do this is when the patient needs something from you. Do they need an appointment, are they on hold, make sure they get your message about your portal.
When statements are sent, is it just 1 every 30 days? Are patients ignored for the 29 days between statements? Think about how many times your favorite airline contacts you a week, and how many times patients are asked for payment.
Asking for the balance in office?
For many claims, the claim has to be adjudicated first. That means sending statements. Since this is not your rule, and it was agreed to by the patient (whom selected the policy) feel free to protect your interests and ask for payment while directing patients to your portal (every several days). Text and email with portal login in information or make a call that communicates this information.
Many ‘patient portals’ do not accommodate the most important part of portal usage, enrolling the patient in the portal first. This is a patient communications issue and the message has to be consistent across all of your platforms. And since this is a continuous process, it needs to be automated.
Keep asking for emails at every opportunity, also have a system that can utilize USPS mail, texts and calls. And keep asking.
As more patients utilize your portal for communicating, the more capacity your phone system has.
For your patients that ‘won’t use your portal’, have you ever considered using a call center? Of course, we can help with this. How does never missing another call sound to you?
To learn more about our services so that you don’t miss another payment, click here