Collecting Out of Pocket Patient Fees: 4 Best Practices

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About a third of a medical practice's revenue comes from collecting out-of-pocket fees from patients. However, once that person leaves, odds of collecting go down by 50 percent. That's a lot of money to let walk out of the door. After speaking with several practice management consultants, Software Advice outlined four best practices to improve patient fee collection while also ensuring good customer satisfaction.

1. Educate your patients
Do not blind side your patient with cost. Be upfront about what they owe and when it should be paid. This is most important for people who pay for their own healthcare or have a high deductible. Explain exactly what these patients owe beforehand. And if there are discounted rates on procedures that are costly, emphasize those so that patients feel more comfortable about the amount.

2. Train your team

Train your staff on how to ask for money. This surprisingly makes a difference. Instead of saying "you owe 30 bucks," have a script that lists exactly what they should say. Asking a person "will this be cash, check or charge?" is a less confrontational way to be direct and can lower the risk of turning them off.

Also, the entire staff should know the ins and out of insurance policies and procedures. This is still the case even if they don't handle claims. One consultant suggested training them on their own insurance so that they can communicate knowing the perspective of the patient.

3. Automate the collections process
Make sure your practice accepts credit cards. There is a higher fee for credit card payments, but your practice can offset the cost by collecting more money since more people pay this way. You can also ask to keep the information on file and with their permission, you can automate payment amounts that are agreed upon beforehand.

4. Be professional about balances
Keep a record of everything. If you agree on a payment plan with a patient, make them sign a promissory agreement. Professionalism can make all the difference.

More Articles on Upfront Collections:

4 Ways to Improve the Patient Payment Process
5 Benefits of Improving Patient Charge Estimates
Bad Debt Exceeds 2% of Total Cost of Services for Most Hospitals

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