Save Costs Through Technology
New Ways to Connect to Patients Without Statements
By Bill Marvin
How often has this scenario occurred in your office? A statement is printed and mailed to a patient for the amount owed. A month passes without receiving a payment, so your staff contacts the patient and learns that the patient never received the statement. Another statement is sent and another month passes – still, no payment. Your staff follows up again, and learns the patient forgot to pay. Another statement is sent and another month elapses. Finally, after multiple months and multiple statements, the patient sends the payment. Or, possibly, you decide to write off the payment as bad debt.
According to the Medical Group Management Association, it takes, on average, more than three statements (costing $5.00 to $15.00 each) for a patient to pay his or her balance in full. To stop wasting money and collect payments sooner, billing services have the opportunity to use innovative collection methods and new payment channels that are convenient, accessible, and do not rely solely on mailed statements.
Expand Your Payment Channels
Billing services can expand the payment channels that they offer to patients, making it easier for clients to collect and adding a more convenient alternative for patients to pay. Rather than relying on traditional collection methods, billing services can reach patients at locations and websites they are already visiting, such as a payor member portal where patients manage claims and view benefit amounts. When patients are able to view the amount owed and then make payments from their payor member portal, you can have your clients paid earlier – as soon as claims are adjudicated – without ever sending statements or calling patients.
Another payment channel that patients frequently access is their bank's bill pay portal or retail walk-in bill pay kiosk, where they can set up payments for all household bills in one place. By enabling patients to pay their healthcare bills in the same place where they are already accustomed to paying other bills, you will increase the likelihood of collecting these payments for your clients.
Collect Patient Payments without Statements
In the 2012 Trends in Healthcare Payments Annual Report1, 62 percent of patients said they normally paid their monthly household bills, such as utility or cable bills, online. As consumers, patients expect to pay healthcare bills when and how they chose, as they do for their other bills, but these expectations are widely unmet in the healthcare industry. A payment channel that has been adopted by other industries is to allow consumers to set up automated, scheduled payments, which ensures payment even if the consumer forgets to pay.
By saving a patient card on file, providers can automatically collect. Additionally, providers can leverage payment technology to automatically suppress the printing and mailing of the paper statement to save staff time and costs to collect.
When billing services offer innovative and convenient payment channels, they ensure that clients receive patient payments sooner while spending less to collect.
Bill Marvin has been in the revenue cycle industry since 1993 and has pioneered the healthcare payments industry as the president, CEO, and co-founder of InstaMed, the leading Healthcare Payments Network. Prior to InstaMed, Bill was an executive in Accenture's Health and Life Sciences practice, focused on payer to provider connectivity.