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Trying to Improve Patient Collections? Think Happy!

Im-so-happy-for-you.-Im-just-happy-periodYou know the type: Optimistic, glad to be alive, glass-half-full people. If life gave us soundtracks according to attitude, they’d be followed by Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” But did you know their positive outlook can even extend to routine tasks like paying healthcare bills?

In her recent presentation, “Maximizing Patient Collections,” Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC, divided patients into three categories: the Happies, Nudgers and Refusers. Of course, these categories aren’t meant to represent the entirety of a person, but their behavior toward payment. (And sadly, the Happies aren’t followed around by minions bouncing along to Pharrell’s catchy melody.) Physician practices can, however, get more clarity on how to collect through these categorizations:

1. Happies – Willing to pay on time and when asked without reminders or pressure.
2. Nudgers – Willing to pay but need some nudging. They may have received a patient statement but ignored or forgot about it.
3. Refusers – Unwilling to pay, no matter what.

Understandably, practices have traditionally focused on the Refusers. But if you know this group just isn’t going to pay, why not shift your focus?

Nudgers, for instance, need to be reminded of their financial responsibility while in your office. It’s harder to nudge them when they’re elsewhere, although online reminders and payment plans do help. Happies pay on time, but you can collect more efficiently and reduce costs through online or automated options they probably prefer anyway.

Technology and optimized payment processes can help you meet your financial goals in a positive, proactive manner. Don’t think, “Refusers won’t let us securely store their credit card numbers and charge them later so we can’t have this policy in our practice.” Instead, request this information when you present written estimates. Your Happies will be…well, happy to comply. Nudgers will likely oblige, too.

The result? You’ll be able to expedite and ease collections for staff and patients alike. For more recommendations on improving patient collections strategies, download the white paper authored by Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC, Patient Collections: Business Critical for Today’s Medical Practices.