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Better Billing Statements, Faster Payments

man-question-markDo your patients understand, at a glance, the billing statements you send them? The answer to that question is critical to your practice’s financial health, since nearly a quarter of your revenue likely comes directly from patients. Here are some revealing statistics:

  • Patient collections account for 23.2 percent of total patient services revenue, according to recent MGMA-ACMPE research.
  • The number of high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts (HSAs) has more than doubled in just the past four years, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) Center for Policy and Research.

Taken together, these facts mean that patient payments will only continue to grow in importance for physician practices. The problem, of course, is that patients who don’t understand their bills very often don’t pay them—at least, not in a timely manner.

The good news: A few changes to your billing statements can go a long way toward making it easier for patients to quickly comprehend and pay their balances. Here are just a few of many suggestions from MGMA-ACMPE:

  • Describe the services rendered in layman’s terms to help patients recall the reasons for their visits. While CPT and ICD-9 codes mean a lot to practice staff, they rarely mean much to a patient.
  • List clearly and distinctly:
            1. Total charges
            2. Amount already paid by insurance
            3. Amount already paid by the patient
            4. Amount the patient still owes
  • Tell patients the next step. Very often, that will be as simple as, “Pay patient balance owed.”

Maximizing revenue cycle effectiveness often requires long, involved financial processes. Designing an easier-to-read patient billing statement, on the other hand, is a simple way to help spur cash flow.