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Increasing Patient Payments with Clarity

clarityMath…who doesn’t love the cold certainty and absolute nature of math? Okay, I can hear some of you now (to borrow a really old SNL quote), “it was my understanding there would be no math” in this blog post. One of the best things about math and calculators is their ability to enable users to proceed with definitive clarity. You plug in numbers, get the answer and know exactly how you should respond next.

If only it were that easy to know next steps in our daily life. As front office staff are tasked with collecting from patients, one of the most challenging aspects of this job is a lack of clarity in the new frontier of increasing patient financial responsibility. With a changing payment environment, requesting patient payment at time of service doesn’t always happen with the speed or ease we’d hope. Patients may be getting used to consumer-driven or high-deductible plans, or they may remember the lower amounts paid two years ago. After years of making the same minimum co-payments, patients may not fully understand their new financial responsibilities, and learning how to communicate this new process can be difficult for administrative staff in physician practices.

The best way to approach this challenge is twofold for your practice: Have the right information and don’t be afraid to set payment expectations up front. Present patient estimates, make sure patients understand them, and don’t be afraid to request payment.

For tips on how front office staff can successfully collect payments at time of service, view The Front-Office Collectors’ Checklist, as developed by renowned revenue cycle expert Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC. To find out the type of cash flow improvements your organization can expect from automated patient payment technology, try the quick, free Cash Flow Calculator today.