Patient Balances on the Rise

Until recently, as a billing company, our focus has been geared towards optimizing payor payments. Historically, only 5% of the outstanding accounts receivable was attributed to patient-due balances. Today, we are seeing the number increase to as high as 25%. The growth of Consumer Directed Healthcare is on the rise and is expected to double next year. So, what can we do to prepare for this impact?

First, scrutinize your current patient collection process. Identify gaps in your system. Some things to consider include: methods of payment accepted, time of service collections process, verification of plans prior to visit, and patient communication methods (letters, phone calls, etc.) for outstanding balances. Second, establish a process that optimizes patient-due balance collections. Develop a policy and train the internal staff. Set goals for your employees and give incentives when the goals are reached. You may need to invest in software products or assistance from outside vendors.

Third, you will need to educate your patients. Once you establish your expectations and the patients understand them, it will be easier to collect patient-due balances. Make sure you inform the patients using different media (brochure, sign, letter, etc.). The better informed the patient, the greater the compliance. By being abreast of these changes in the marketplace and making modifications in your office, you will protect your largest financial asset – your accounts receivable. With the rising costs of overhead expenses, it is in your best interest to focus on this sooner than later.