By Deirdre Ruttle
What follows are tips and best practices for collecting increasing patient responsibility by improving the way that you communicate with patients. Here are four kinds of conversations your staff can initiate to change the payments relationship with patients.
“What payment method would you like us to keep saved on file?”
Give your staff visibility into the patient’s payment information and history so they can be prepared for any conversation and better help patients understand what they are going to owe. This empowers your staff to feel confident in talking to patients by having all the tools and information readily available to them prior to a patient interaction. This not only increases your likelihood of getting paid, but it also establishes your credibility and allows patients to feel a sense of trust in your organization. Most patients are confused by their medical bills and are just looking for some guidance with the payments process; enable your staff to offer that guidance and build loyal, trusting relationships with patients.
“Your credit card information is secure.”
Furthermore, you must instill confidence in patients that their information is protected. Your staff must be able to assuredly convey that the patient’s credit card information is secure and that your organization has the highest levels of security and compliance. The easiest way to do this is to work with a payments vendor that is up to date with all security and compliance standards, including HITRUST and PCI. If your organization cuts corners around security and compliance, you are not only increasing your chance of a data breach but also losing the valuable trust of patients.
“We’ll never charge your card more than what you owe.”
Patients might be intimidated by the idea of letting you charge their card to collect their responsibility, especially if it’s possible that the responsibility is in the thousands. Ease patient concerns by establishing a charge limit. This lets patients know the maximum amount they will be charged and will also lead to conversations about other payment options like payment plans.
“We want to make this easy for you. You have options.”
Patients also want visibility into their payment process. Do you have a patient portal? If so, talk to patients about their options with a portal and give them some ownership over their healthcare bills. With a patient portal, patients can access a digital wallet where they can store and manage payment methods, view their payment history 24/7, enroll in e-statements, and set up self-service payment plans.
Additionally, it is important to remember that every patient is different. Make sure patients know they have multiple options to pay, including paying a balance over the phone or setting up payments through their bank bill pay portal. Options give patients convenience and show that you respect their preferences. Improve the overall patient experience by giving them the simplest and easiest ways to pay their bills.
Deirdre Ruttle is the vice president of strategy at InstaMed. Before joining InstaMed, Deirdre held senior marketing roles at alphabroder and Collages.net, where she led marketing strategy to drive usage of B2B and B2C e-commerce platforms.