Working to create a system for accelerating cash flow in your practice requires re-evaluating and updating your current processes to meet the demands of the modern patient. As patients become payers and out-of-pocket costs increase, developing a process for more effective patient collections will empower your collections team, help your practice avoid bad debt, and improve up-front collections.
Before developing any new processes it’s a good idea to spend time cleaning up your current open accounts receivable so you can implement changes with a fresh start. This includes looking for ways to collect on open accounts instead of writing them off, as well as reviewing your current policies to ensure that all patients are being treated fairly.
Consider offering patients with an aged balance a one-time patient prompt-pay discount. For instance, “If you can pay today in full, you’ll get this discount.” This will help clear balances while avoiding the bad debt process. Additionally, you could establish a standard payment plan on aged balances. For instance, for patients who aren’t incentivized to pay, try offering a payment plan to save their account from going to collections as a last effort to keep the balance active.
Work to align with practice stakeholders on financial policies including payment plan duration, interest bearing, balance thresholds, etc. Then, review your financial assistance policies together and ensure there is no ambiguity. Lastly, work together to develop an up-front financial transparency goal for your practice.
Prior to reworking your communication/collections strategy, it’s a good idea to be aware of the best practices around patient communication. We recommend familiarizing yourself with the following regulations to ensure your systems are compliant:
The ways you communicate with your patients matter, especially when it comes to collections. A good place to start is to ask yourself the following questions and determine whether your current communication strategies are effective:
Once you have evaluated these questions, the next step is to work to empower your collections team to redesign the parts of the process that could be stronger. Once those areas have been identified, a new policy can be developed and documented, and the collections team can be trained to have the necessary difficult financial conversations.
When working to design a new, more effective process in a landscape where the patient is becoming the payer, it is necessary to create opportunities to communicate more effectively, using a normal statement cadence but supplementing them with modern follow-up actions. Consider opportunities to connect beyond traditional notices, such as text, phone calls, email, and using self-serve payment options to collect.
As you are putting your new processes in place, the following are a couple common metrics you can use as a diagnostic tool to better evaluate your patient collections:
This is an excerpt from the webinar "Accelerating Cashflow Through Up-front Collection". Watch the full webinar here.