Tag: Patient Balances

09 Apr 2016

Should you send patient statements daily or in bulk?

shouldyousendpatientstatementsdaily

Before considering this question, let’s recap the process before it’s time to send patients a financial statement for the amount that is her responsibility. A patient is responsible for a service usually when her insurance pays nothing or a portion of the fees. Before a visit or a procedure, it’s imperative to check a patient’s eligibility and benefits. We find several practices/ surgery centers that do not have the bandwidth to complete this task and the practice management system is not equipped to complete this task automatically.

If that’s the case with your organization, sign up with independent eligibility verification services – remember that it’s never fully automated. Checking a patient’s eligibility decreases the risk of the claim being denied by insurance. After the service is performed, it’s important to submit charges within 24 hours of service – the longer it takes to submit charges, the greater likelihood that it may be denied. After receiving payments, it’s important to post payments in the practice management system immediately. It’s at this point when we know what a patient is responsible for.

The answer to the question above (should you be send statements daily or in bulk?) is simple: send them daily. At the outset, collecting money from patients after a service is one of the most difficult parts of the revenue cycle. It gets a lot more difficult to collect with every passing day from the date of service. Often practices make the mistake of sorting patients alphabetically and submitting statements in that order. This process does not take into account the amount in question or even the likelihood of getting paid from that patient. Ideally, a practice or its billing company must use analytics to determine the likelihood of getting paid and send statements accordingly. If a patient has gone through an endoscopy under a failed insurance plan then the patient must be made to pay the very day of service. Consider if a patient is a repeat offender or if she has occasionally lapsed. What type of insurance plan history does the patient have. While it’s the responsibility of the center to bill all patients, it’s also important to remember that not everyone will respond or even pay the same way. If she is routinely missed payments or ignored them, bill immediately. The administrator or system must determine this as soon as a patient is provided service – this decision must extend through the process and trigger a statement and type of statement once payments are posted.

In summary, it’s important to think about the process around patient accounts receivable differently and not treat all claims and all plans equally after a point. It’s also important to work on statements daily and send them. On a future blog post, I’ll explain methods of sending statements and what must happen after a statement is submitted – when and whom should you be calling?

By Praveen Suthrum, President & Co-Founder, NextServices.

02 Apr 2016

Recover patient balances effectively

recoverpatientbalanceseffectively

Patient collection is an integral part of the revenue cycle management, yet it is also the task medical practices enjoy the least. Patient deductibles are in general increasing. According to a study, 22.7 percent of people under the age of 65 with private health insurance are enrolled in high deductible health plans. According to the McKinsey report, 36 percent of patients have a balance of 60 days or more past due. So bad debts are on a rise as well. Determining the actual amount of money due and finding effective, yet cheaper ways to recover it is what becomes tricky.

Recommendations on improving patient collections:

Determine how much money is yet to be recovered and sitting on the accounts.
To draw an action plan you must first know how much is it that you are actually looking at. Do individual outstanding patient responsibility analysis. This will help you come to a specific dollar amount which will help you determine the amount of effort that needs to be put in this domain.

Shortlist accounts.
Divide your list of patient accounts as definite collectible and definite non collectible. It is the definite collectible accounts that need your attention.

Filter accounts.
After short listing your patient accounts try and look for patterns by which money can be recovered easily (e.g: patients recently seen can be more likely to pay).

Take a call.
Determine whether you are willing to write off certain accounts v/s pursue aggressively by constant follow ups and reminders. Resorting to collection agencies can also be a part if your plan but the feasibility should be thoroughly calculated.

Give options.
Design payment plans for patients with higher balances; this would help in reducing the burden of one time full payment on your patients, keeps the money coming in at intervals and most importantly your patients will be happy. Provide online payment options – many if not most, of the patients are accustomed to carrying their transactions online.

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