Your patients trust you and with good reason. With the exemplary dermatological care you’re providing, you are supporting both their physical and mental wellbeing. Whether that medical care is covered through a medical plan, insurance company, or being absorbed by your patient, collecting payment balances can be challenging. Things to consider include co-insurance, deductibles, online payment abilities or credit card administrative charges. There’s a lot to think about and frankly, how to effectively collect patient balances shouldn’t be where you focus your energy. Derm Care Billing Consultants exists because we know how to collect co-pays from patients, how to manage patient payment optimization and all the many payment and collection details that come with running a successful dermatology practice. Here are some tips from us to you to help get you paid.
Top 5 Tips on How to Collect Payment Balances from Customers:
1. Utilize Technology
Put technology to work for you by investing in equipment that makes it easy for you to both track AND collect payment from patients. This means collecting all personal data from patients at time of first visit including their credit card information, name and address, contact information, email address, insurance details and even their preferred method of payment. If for some reason you haven’t collected payment at the time of their procedure, you’ll have everything you need to effectively be able to collect payment after. Additionally, make it easy for your patient to pay you. Most people are familiar with online, swipe or tap payment systems, so make sure you offer a choice in how patients can pay. As well, if you are using any kind of a patient portal system, use it to full effect by enabling patients to pay with a credit card online.
2. Have A Clearly Defined Payment Policy in Place
Make it simple for your patients to understand payment expectations by stating them upfront. At time of the initial visit, ensure patients are familiarized with your payment terms and any consequences for delinquent accounts. It is generally recognized good business practice to ask for any insurance co-payments upfront, at the time of treatment. Offer a variety of payment options as noted above, making it easier for patients and wherever possible, as part of your intake process, consider having patients sign off that they have read and understand your reimbursement policies.
Tips 1 and 2 might be considered as patient payment optimization strategies but what comes after? How do you handle patients who are delinquent in their accounts and what can you do when the question of how to effectively collect patient balances is keeping you awake at night and impacting your practice’s revenue stream?
3. Offer A Payment Plan
Another opportunity for ensuring consistent payment from patients is to put some kind of a payment plan in place, particularly for treatment services that will both span a long period of time and/or require a significant investment from your patient. Flexible payment options allow a patient to schedule both their treatment and payments according to their availability AND their ability to pay. It makes treatment more affordable and creates peace of mind for patients who likely couldn’t afford the full cost of treatment upfront. You’ll still need a well-established tracking mechanism and system in place for payment follow up and staff who are committed to doing so. If you’re not using the services of a company like Derm Care Billing Consultants, make sure you have a skilled bookkeeping and billings/collections expert as part of your staff team.
4. Speaking of Staff – TRAIN, Train, Train and Explain!
Everyone involved in your medical dermatology practice is a part of the credit and collections team. How? From the receptionist who greets your patients, to the nurse who completes their chart and you as their trusted treatment professional, every interaction with a patient is an opportunity to ensure a patient profile is completed in full, that patients are reminded of any obligation to make a co-payment and that before they leave your practice they’ve settled their account. It could be as simple as a nurse noting something is missing from the patient’s chart and updating it, to you reminding patients as part of their discharge process to “stop by the front desk” to collect home care instructions and finalize their invoice. Even when patients first enter your clinic and are greeted, the person registering their arrival can simply ask, “How will you be paying today,” as a gentle reminder that full payment or a co-pay is expected. Create a script for your staff to use to make the process smoother and consistent amongst all employees. Scripting will also help with the collections process if your payment terms are being ignored and you are trying to collect co-pays from patients or effectively collect outstanding patient balances.
5. Trust the Professionals
Acting as a credit and collections agency, dealing with insurance companies or patients who have perhaps fallen on difficult times is not easy and it’s not why you completed medical training! If caring for patients is your true calling and expertise, outsource the billing, payment collections and insurance wrangling to a firm whose sole business it is to help dermatology practices like yours increase their revenue stream through great billing, credit and collections practices. Focus on providing exemplary care for your patients and let a company like Derm Care Billing Consultants, highly trained experts in the field, focus on payment optimization strategies. We are dedicated exclusively to the practice of dermatology and have over 35 years of experience. We offer 24/7 web based access and our current “claims paid on first submission” ratio is 97%!