Should we bill and collect during COVID-19?: Best Practices for Healthcare

Many of the practices we serve are struggling financially in light of the pandemic. Through our practice communication tools, we are helping practices migrate to digital communications, virtual care, and online payments to face the current crisis and digital patient demands of the future. We reached out to one of our trusted accounts receivable management partners, Tek Collect, for tips on managing your accounts receivable during this uncertain time.

The Coronavirus Pandemic is an unprecedented event in recent American history. The virus has forced every industry in America to adjust their business practices to fit the current reality. In healthcare, many specialties are seeing a sharp downturn in collections due to the fact that non-essential medical care has essentially screeched to a halt. Medical practices want to ensure the sustainability of their practices and they want to continue to offer patients care, all while respecting this sensitive time and reducing exposure to COVID-19. TekCollect is working closely with their clients to determine the best path forward when it comes to collections.

What—if any—billing approach is appropriate during this pandemic?

Here are the best practices TekCollect suggests:

Respect your Patient’s Unique Personal Situations

Your patients are all in different personal situations. We find that it is most effective to be lenient during this difficult time. Over 17 million people have suddenly lost their job, and many others are severely hamstrung. Your goal should be to craft a compassionate and effective billing strategy that may include setting up a manageable payment plans and planning for future better circumstances. Offer special payment arrangements, and payment deferrals.

Offer Patients Options through Clear Communications

This pandemic has created a difficult balancing act. It is vital to bring cash in the door; however, medical practices do not want to be viewed as insensitive. The key to achieving balance is to focus on clarity in your communications so that patients understand their options. When patients feel they have options, they are less likely to be frustrated by the attempt to collect. Make it clear to your patients that you are willing to be flexible and work with them. The goal is work on arrangements that are beneficial to both parties.

Find an AR Management Company with a Diplomatic Approach

If you decide to work with a 3rd party accounts receivable management company, make sure they can customize collections communications to be flexible to your patients’ unique needs.  Not all collection agencies work the same.  The last thing you want during this time is to outsource to a company that has a heavy-handed collection philosophy.  This is not the time to sue patients, demand payment in full, garnish wages, or instantly submit patients to credit bureaus. This could damage your relationship with your patients in the future.

What should you look for in a partner?:

  • a company that can handle billing in your name (1st party billing)
  • a company that offers a soft approach to billing and is willing to work with your patients regarding payments

The results will be better, and your patients will appreciate the flexible, compassionate approach.

Takeaway:

These are trying times and most of us have more questions than answers. At this point, it seems COVID-19 will impact us for quite some time. As a business, it is vital that you keep the doors open to continue to care for your patients and your staff during and after this crisis. Though it may feel uneasy, it is acceptable and necessary to ask for payment on services rendered. Your collections practices can be both compassionate and effective if you are lenient and kind, offer clear and flexible payment options, and—if you do use a 3rd party accounts receivable management partner—work with one who will reflect your strategies.

Contact Micro-Office Systems if your facility needs assistance communicating to your patient population regarding COVID-19. Our tools can help you reach your patients through multiple channels significantly faster than traditional methods.