Medical Billing Tips: 3 Best Practices for Collecting Patient Payments

We share three medical billing tips for collecting patient payments more effectively to help positively impact your practice cash flow.

To say health care professionals like you are hard workers is a serious understatement. And, it goes without saying, that hard work deserves fair pay. When it comes to medical practices, it should come as no surprise to you that approximately 20% of all medical practice revenue comes directly from patients and their copays. And, frustratingly enough, a lot of the time we don’t receive payment at the time of visit, for a variety of reasons: a client’s card may be declined, a client may not have the ability to pay at the time, insurance coverage issues – the list goes on. 

            Despite our beliefs that each patient deserves access to health care, it doesn’t discount the fact that the majority of medical practices only end up collecting roughly 60% of all copays. The remaining 40%, it would seem, disappears into a black hole. Despite best attempts from your billing teams, a large amount of unpaid bills get forwarded onto collections. To make matters worse, on average, collections teams are only effective in bringing in about 21% of that missing revenue – which may leave you searching for medical billing tips and solutions. 

When it comes to total revenue of any healthcare organization, did you know that 23.2% (of all revenue) is accounted for by collections from patients (Medical Group Management Association [MGMA])? That's nearly a fourth the annual revenue your business needs to survive. Now, let’s do a quick thought experiment: on average, the majority of collections teams only recover 21% of your missing revenue, at best. That means, if you’re using an average bill collecting agency, you’re missing out on recovering ¾ of your delinquent accounts – meaning that you’re only recouping a marginal amount of revenue that accounts for 25% of your cash flow. Yikes!

What can healthcare providers like you do to better the collections process? How can you recover more of your missing revenue? Below are three medical billing tips you can use to improve patient collections and positively impact your practice cash flow.  

Here are three best practices for collecting patient payments.

 1. Improve patient collections by unifying and leveraging a stronger payment policy.

            Your best chance of collecting payment in-full is before patients are seen. To facilitate this, you can start by crafting an even playing field with clear, non-negotiable expectations for all patients. Inform each client that payment is due at the time of service. Better yet, coordinate and communicate a new office policy for each visit. Tell your patients to arrive 10 minutes early to ensure payment is made or consider implementing pre-visit billing. Make it clear that appointments will be canceled if payment isn’t received, in full, prior to the appointment.

In fact, have your intake team and scheduling coordinators inform each patient (as they call in to set up appointments or even when reminding them of upcoming ones), to educate your patients about the new policy. You can mitigate any client pushback by explaining that medical care is a product (or service), just like buying food at a grocery store or quick restaurant. Customers are required to pay for their foods/goods before receiving them or being able to enjoy them; medical service is exactly the same. 

While most clients are trustworthy enough to make their payment, things fall through the cracks when exceptions are made. People forget to make payments; your billing team can forget to collect the payment if it’s outside of the traditional payment schedule. Overall, you can recoup more lost revenue by preventing it from going to collections. Creating stronger payment policies helps prevent account delinquency.

2. Offer a better, easier customer experience.

            Whether or not you decide to reshape your office policies in regards to payment, one thing you should definitely not ignore is the customer experience – especially when it comes to orchestrating better (and proven) payment – and collections – methods. Did you know that 91% of consumers prefer electronic payment methods to cover their medical bills? If not, now you do.

            One of your best strategies is to set each patient up for success. Your patients want virtual and self-service payment options from you! When it comes to making healthcare payments, give your customers their preferred tools to manage their financial obligations instead of having them speak with someone directly from your billing department or collections agency. 

            In fact, the majority of healthcare organizations should jump at the opportunity to create a seamless, “one-stop-shop” digital payment and account management system for patients. Your patients are already raising their hands and asking for it: 87% of consumers indicated in a survey that they wish they could make all their healthcare payments in one, safe, secure, and convenient digital atmosphere. For larger healthcare organizations (like hospitals and clinics), this means creating (or leveraging an existing) tool that automates the billing process for all your departments, creating a simpler payment process. 

Man paying his past-due medical bill via convenient online payment methods.

            Empowering your patients to make payments through the systems and technologies they prefer is definitely a great way to improve customer experience. It also has a deep impact on your revenue and cash flow. In fact, when you offer your patients the ability to make digital payments – or even if you ping them with a link to pay on their phone – research shows you’ll receive payment 44% faster. And don’t forget: roughly 50% of all patients claim they would pay via text messaging if given the opportunity. If you’re looking to improve practice cash flow, this is an easy, quick-win for you – and for your patients.

 3. Utilize a dynamic, integrated collections services software, like BillFlash.      

Utilizing a one-stop-shop software like BillFlash for billing and payments makes it easier for your patients to access billing at their leisure. But what happens when clients either forget or neglect to pay the amount due – and months go by without receiving a dime? It completely affects and alters your practice cash flow. Previously, you’re only option at attempting to recoup past-due A/R was to either spend countless hours trying to contact the patient yourself to request payment (and potentially tarnish the patient relationship) or involve a third-party collections agency—neither an ideal option. Not only will you waste months-on-end trying to recover the payment, but you’ll also have to wait even longer for your money if the account goes to a collection agency—who typically takes their cut first and then sends you whatever is left. And, even then, there is no guarantee you’ll ever recoup what you’re owed (not even partially).

That’s where using a truly integrated billing, payments, and collections software-as-a-service like BillFlash comes in handy. BillFlash offers one of the safest and most anti-predatory online collections processes available. Best of all, it’s customer-centric for both your business as well as your clients. Let’s face it: nobody particularly enjoys having a billing department – or collections agency – writing letters that spell out the significance of their financial debt. BillFlash, on the other hand, collaboratively meets your customers where they are.

“Billflash recoups up to 81% (of your missing revenue) – nearly 4x the industry average.”

BillFlash’s team of Recovery Specialists uses a strong sense of decorum and tact to let delinquent payers understand the urgency to their situation and urges them to get you paid. Using strategic, assertive communication allows patients to comprehend their situation's gravity and utilizes proven methods to generate revenue recovery well above the industry average. In fact, on average, collections agencies typically only recover 21% of missing your revenue. BillFlash recoups up to 81% of balances that are 60-120 days past due– nearly 4x the industry average.

 Implementing best practices for collecting patient payments.

Best of all, there is no uptime or lengthy pauses during the integration process. Once you've added BillFlash Integrated Collections Services to your account, simply upload your statements directly to BillFlash from your EHR/Practice Management system and customize the settings you want the system to use to flag recommended accounts for collections (based on aging, minimum dollar amount, etc.). That's it. The system does the rest. BillFlash’s team of Recovery Specialists will directly follow up with the patients you send to us through tactful letters and phone calls. So, essentially, you can “set it and forget it,” as BillFlash’s team follows up, on behalf of your practice, on all outstanding balances you send their way. 

            This solution empowers your staff to focus on other priorities while BillFlash’s experts use tried and true methods to bring outstanding patient balances. Additionally, you can customize the tone, messaging, and aggressiveness you want your collections process to be. Your office staff can focus on the work that’s most meaningful to your organization while BillFlash’s teams track down your delinquent clients. Imagine what your office management teams could do with this much time freed up!

For businesses looking to improve billing, payment, and collections processes while strengthening one of your most valuable revenue streams, BillFlash is the ultimate solution. Not only does the system recoup much more of your losses than your current collections process, it does so much faster – and pays you instantly. The very day that BillFlash secures a payment from a delinquent account, it deposits the money right into your BillFlash merchant account. Not only does BillFlash improve your overall collections process, it also improves your practice’s cash flow and revenue.

Schedule a demo today to learn how automated patient statements, payment services, and integrated collection solutions can transform your patient collections process.

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