Best Practices in Patient Billing and Collections:

Make it easy and convenient for patients to pay their healthcare bills

Part 2 of a 4-part series designed to offer your small practice providers tips on improving their administrative and clinical operations.

Few people enjoy paying their bills—it’s just no fun to watch hard-earned money end up in someone else’s bank account.

No matter how well your providers take care of their patients, they’re just as hesitant to open their wallets. It stands to reason, then, that your providers need to make the process as painless and convenient as possible. Online portals can be the perfect solution. Consumers have grown accustomed to managing their affairs via the Web and expect this level of service in all areas of their lives—including healthcare.

The healthcare industry, however, has yet to make patient-facing, Web-based payment tools a universal option. Small practices must pay especially close attention to cash flow, so encouraging timely and accurate payment by bringing the process online is crucial.

Optimizing the online advantage begins well before a patient encounter. Web-based registrations tools, for example, allow patients to sign in prior to their arrival and the practice to capture important information. Patients are free to register at their convenience days before their appointment, instead of arriving at the doctor’s office early just to fill out paper forms. The practice benefits, as well, because it has access to legible, accurate information to streamline the claims and billing process.

Then, after the visit, patients can conveniently—and promptly—settle their accounts via the secure portal. Not only is cash flow improved, practices can reduce administrative expenses by removing some of the burden of collections from their office staff.

When introducing online capabilities to their patients, practices must promote the portal to ensure it’s used. A “multi-touch” campaign offers the best approach. Posters in the lobby, hallways and exam rooms can announce the new payment option. Registration and check-out staff should mention the availability of the portal and maybe even hand out postcards, refrigerator magnets or other tchotchkes. An additional reminder can be printed on billing statements still being mailed.

It’s important to promote the portal on the practice’s website, as well, preferably on the home page. This serves as a constant reminder for current patients and might attract individuals looking for a new doctor.

Other ways to encourage use of an online payment option include:
• ensuring the portal features easy-to-use instructions and simple navigation;
• making sure the portal displays contact information prominently in case patients need help; and
• assuring patients that the portal is secure and all private information is protected.

One final note: Keep in mind that patients of all ages might use online tools. They should include the full-bodied features the younger generation has come to expect, but be simple enough so those less technology-savvy can navigate the process easily as well.

Emdeon’s Patient Pay Online Express is a patient-facing application designed to help small providers enjoy success with Web-based portals. As an example, Concord Integrated Health, a chiropractic medicine practice located in Concord, Massachusetts, was increasingly burdened by the conventional process for generating and sending patient statements. At the time, it was generating between 250 and 300 statements per month. Along with implementing an automated billing service, Concord Integrated Health began using the Emdeon Patient Pay Online Express solution to answer patient demand for Web-based payments. With individuals able to view billing amounts and pay their accounts online, at anytime, the amount and promptness of payments greatly increased.

Dr. Jeff Robichaud, Chief of Concord Integrated Heath’s Chiropractic Medicine Department, summarizes that “by allowing patients to pay their bills online, we are seen as a practice that is providing the most up-to-date solution for them. Patient Pay Online drives patients to our website as well, so we can have a presence with them beyond the in-person office visit.”i

With a secure system accessible to patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Emdeon Patient Pay Online Express solution improves collections and data accuracy, while offering patients greater convenience. Emdeon helps speed up the billing and payment cycle, improving finances, reducing staff time invested in administrative tasks and giving your providers more time to spend with patients.

Nothing will remove the sting of paying a medical bill completely, of course. But by reducing the hassle and offering an option that fits into the patient’s lifestyle, practices eliminate some resistance—resulting in timely payments and improved cash flow.

For more information on how Concord Integrated Health has experienced increased payments and patient satisfaction through the use of Emdeon’s Patient Pay Online Express, please click here

(Note: Stay tuned for an in-depth look at other ways to improve customer relations to enhance patient billing and collections in the next issue of this newsletter.)

i “Emdeon Patient Billing & Payment Solutions: Efficient technology for reducing costs and accelerating patient payments,” Emdeon Business Services LLC, July 2011

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Jaxon Pryke said...

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Riazul khan said...

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