Eight tips to boost your patient collections in the new year

Intelligent practice owners know that the front desk is the key to their financial success.  They are the face of your clinic and they are often the people responsible for the data entry, benefit verification and patient payment collection that take your visits from a financial loss to a profit. Patient payment collection is never more important than in January and February when, due to health insurance deductibles resetting, close to 80% of your income can come from patients.

However, this is often a difficult conversation for your front desk to have with your patients.  Many patients may be unaware of the details of their insurance coverage, and a large bill from their therapist can come as a nasty surprise.  This is why benefit verification and communication with your patients can be the difference between being able to pay your bills or not.

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How do you coach your front desk to have an uncomfortable conversation with patients about financial matters?  How do you work with them to overcome common objections that patients have to pay their bills?  How do you even predict what a patient may owe for a visit before it has happened?

Take a look at these eight indispensable patient collections tips (for now and for the new year):

  • Role-play conversations with your front desk about patient collections. It becomes easier to overcome objections when they feel prepared to answer common questions or deal with confrontational scenarios.
  • Have a process to verify patients’ eligibility and benefit coverage before their initial evaluation, and for all patients’ first visits in 2019.
  • Communicate with your patients before their visits if they have a deductible to meet. Know what your average payment per visit is for your top payers and let patients know what they will be responsible for paying at every visit.
  • Have a standardized payment plan process in place and communicate to your patients what their payment options are before their visits.
  • Make sure your front desk understands their role in patient collections and are empowered to prompt the patient for their deductible payment before their visit.
  • Work with your team to make sure that they are updating patients about their current balance at every visit.
  • Send out patient statements on a regular basis and contact patients who become past due on their balances. Remind them of your payment plan policy.
  • Work with a collections agency to collect balances for patients who are unwilling to pay.

If you have a plan in place and an empowered team, patient collections can go from a frustrating situation to a routine scenario very quickly.

4 thoughts on “Eight tips to boost your patient collections in the new year

  1. Jack – Often times, the single most difficult part of working the front desk is asking patients for money. They give all sorts of excuses – they act shocked that they have a balance, they say that they forgot their card and will pay at the next visit, they become combative when pressed . . . it can be very challenging. Preparing your team through trainings or role-playing scenarios can prepare them for those difficult conversations. They also need to be supported by the initial evaluation scheduling process. If your practice makes it a habit of verifying benefits before the patient arrives for their initial evaluation and alerting the patient as to what their estimated responsibility will be, it makes it easier on the people who are face-to-face with the patients every day.
    Consistency is the other key. Make sure your team is checking on the balance and prompting the patient for payment at every visit. If the patient has a payment plan in place, make sure that your team is reminding them of that and thanking the patient for staying on top of it. The more your team becomes comfortable discussing financial matters with patients, the easier it will be.

  2. We do a multi approach. First we have a sign all year stating that we collect $25 each visit prior to the visit if they have any deductible. Copay is collected in full amount. Next we verify benefits prior to starting and first day of business in January, by getting insurance info in December. Then is they have a deductible over $250 they have a conversation with the business manager and set up on auto deduct payment plan. These have really helped our cash flow throughout the year.

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