Better Communication is Key to Improving Patient Collections
March 1, 2019
One of the keys for healthcare providers in improving patient collections is better communication. As healthcare costs continue to increase and patients are paying more for their coverage, they are also paying closer attention to the quality and cost of the care they are receiving. Because of this, the ways in which the details of treatment options, suggested procedures, and billing and collection activities have become more necessary and wide-ranging. This enhanced patient/provider communication can come in many different forms, and is most commonly referred to as patient engagement. Texts, emails, videos, webinars and mobile devices are all ways this communication can take place, and typically leads to greater patient satisfaction and improved financial results for the practice.
According to a 2018 survey* of nearly 900 healthcare workers and 1,000 patients conducted by HIMSS, three major findings were discovered:
- Providing estimates ahead of time to patients for costs of services rendered had a positive net effect on how quickly patients pay their bills.
- 46% of respondents stated that they would be more likely to pay more of their charges ahead of time or during the time of service if they received an estimate.
- 87% of providers indicated they have the ability to provide cost estimates to patients, but only 18% currently do so unless asked to.
- Increasing the use of technology for billing and collection activities simplifies the process for both patients and providers.
- 75% of patient respondents stated that they currently experience difficulty in understanding and/or paying for their healthcare expenses.
- 45% of respondents preferred electronic billing and payment options, yet 96% of providers still send patients paper statements through the mail.
- Patients would prefer to pay for their healthcare expenses by using their debit or credit cards.
- 83% of patients stated that they would prefer to use debit or credit cards to pay for balances of $200 or less.
- Only 49% of providers offer patient payment plans, 42% online bill pay, and 22% lines of credit.
Because of factors like these, nearly 48% of providers reported that it takes patients more than three months to pay off their balances, with only 19% of patients doing so within the first thirty days of services rendered. A little more than 13% of patients took longer than six months to pay their balances, and nearly 6% never paid anything they owed.
A strategic, automated process that addresses both patient billings and collections can go a long way to alleviate these problems. Revenue Cycle Management/Medical Billing (RCM) does just that. For more information on the RCM services GBS has to offer, please click here or contact one of our product experts today and let us help you start collecting what you’ve already earned!
*Waystar/HIMSS Analytics: “Patient Payment Check-Up 2018 Survey Report.” https://public.zirmed.com/wp-content/ uploads/2018/05/ Waystar_HIMSS_Analytics_PPCU_Report_2018_05.15.18.pdf; accessed August 2018.