After working late, you’re looking forward to a low-key evening. A fellow parent calls as you’re pulling in the garage, asking you to bring 30 assorted cupcakes to your child’s class tomorrow. Rushing to catch the subway, you sidestep a large group of tourists. A lady breaks free to ask if you’ll stop to take their picture. You’re trying to cut back on sugar but the neighborhood Girl Scouts are at the door with boxes of Thin Mints.
These scenarios have one common theme: You really want to say no…but you’ll probably say yes. Today’s physician practices are faced with the new challenge of collecting payment at time of service. Frequently, this requires a reboot on how your staff approaches self-pay collections. In particular, your front office team must have a solid understanding of patient financial responsibility up front – and they must feel comfortable and confident asking the patient to make a payment.
The good news: Just like it’s hard to say no to the Girl Scout at your door, patients generally won’t be negative when you ask for payment at the time of service. It is now a best practice to present the patient estimate, get sign-off and request credit or debit card information so you’ll have the information to charge the card up to the estimated amount post adjudication when patient responsibility is known. Doing all of this while the patient is still in front of you significantly increases your chance of collecting. Add tools such as automated payment plans, and you can improve your ability to collect in full, too – thus avoiding bad debt.
Review Waystar’s white paper, Patient Collections: Business Critical for Today’s Medical Practices, to learn other patient payment best practices – including a front office collectors’ checklist and techniques for each step in the collections process.