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HBMA’s eight tips to improve patient collections

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The changing landscape of patient collections accounts for the biggest challenges in revenue cycle management.  According to the Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA), fully 30% of healthcare provider revenue now comes from patients, rather than insurers.  The problem is that patients are overwhelmed with the rising cost of healthcare, so bills go unpaid or underpaid, which equals lost revenue for the providers.  It has become necessary, then, for both providers and their billing companies to develop new collections strategies.

There are eight things the HBMA recommends that a billing company can do to increase the chances of successful collection.

  1. Manage all clients from a central virtual location. For billing companies especially, the ability to manage multiple clients through a single source greatly streamlines the collections process. “This high-level view ultimately saves time for your team,” says the HBMA, “while allowing them to obtain updates and answers quickly for provider staff.”
  2. Set up unique merchant accounts for each client. This allows for faster posting of payments and helps to protect confidential patient information.
  3. Provide price transparency by generating estimates. Patients’ financial responsibility has increased markedly in the last several years. Consequently, so has their desire to be involved in the cost of their care.  Implementing a system whereby a provider can provide an estimated cost of care “can simultaneously achieve higher collections and greater patient satisfaction,” the HBMA says.
  4. Implement a card-on-file solution to facilitate payment and peace of mind. When integrated with a care estimate tool, the benefits are two-fold, says the HBMA, “patients will have greater peace of mind, and the seamlessness of the care estimation and card-on-file solution will reduce administrative work for staff.”
  5. Promote online payment via a patient portal. Payments post-service are the hardest to collect. Providing an easy and convenient payment portal for the patient greatly increases your chances of getting paid. There is also the added benefit that payments post automatically.
  6. Prioritize obtaining email addresses. Patients are likely to give this information out freely. Billing companies should encourage providers to request it when setting appointments, at the time of service, or when collecting payments via phone.  This is an easy way to promote paperless billing and online payment portals, which has two obvious benefits: convenience for the patient and reducing the cost of mailing.
  7. Have the patient agree to securely store a credit card on file at the time of service. Whether it’s a one-time payment or an automated payment plan, this is convenient for the billing company, the client, and the patient. Client providers should be encouraged to review payment responsibility with their patients, and encourage them to store their card on file.  This will speed up the collections process and increase cash flow.
  8. Use technology to generate estimates for patient review and approval. “Providers recognize patients are still adapting to their increased financial responsibility; however, they may not be providing printed estimates to promote better understanding,” the HBMA says. “Encourage them to help increase collections with printed estimates, which give patients a credible, black-and-white view of their financial responsibilities.”

“Your billing company can be an invaluable partner for providers juggling a host of priorities,” says Jim Denny, writing for the HBMA, “such as Meaningful Use, value-based reimbursement, and ICD-10. By employing technology that fits with providers’ collections strategies and promotes best practices, you can help providers maintain their financial health in this era of significant change.”

Are you one of the 25-to-30% of medical practices experiencing lost income due to improper billing?  Would you like to achieve a 25% increase in overall collections? Rev-Ignition can help!  Call (844) 297-9944 to speak to one of our knowledgeable professionals today.