Muhammad Sair Khan
How-to collect patient balances after discharge
To improve your bottom line, it’s not just the insurance companies you’ll need to follow up with for payment; you have to stay on top of your patient statements too, too.
Many patients may be discharged with balances still due, leaving thousands of dollars of your revenue in limbo. However, once patients are out of your facility, it becomes increasingly difficult to contact them, especially if they don’t have a permanent residence.
To get your patients to pay off their balances, we recommend the following:
Create a Timely Collections Process
You need to check patient balances regularly and follow up in a timely manner with every patient. For instance, you may send notices the first Friday of every month via mail. You might call the patient after a month or two of no payment. You should also decide when you send patients to collections; how many notices will you send first? However you choose to contact patients, be consistent with your process and always stick to your schedule.
Help Patients Understand Bills
Simplify your bill as much as possible to help patients understand what they owe. You may even want to include in bold letters or highlighted the words “YOU OWE.” Make sure a number to call with questions about their bill is easy to find so they can contact you as needed.
It is also a good idea to include an explanation of what their bill will be and what it will look like in their discharge process or even in the admissions process. This increases the likelihood that you’ll be paid what you are owed while helping patients understand the cost of their care.
You should also send an addressed envelope and option for credit card payment with the bill to make it simple for them to pay. Or, you can give them the option to pay online, which many patients now prefer.
You should also include any warnings on your bills, especially if they will be referred to collections soon.
Get Payment Information on File
The best way to ensure your patients pay their balance even after they are discharged is to get payment information, such as a credit or debit card, on file during the admissions process. Having a credit card on file will make it easier for you to charge patients for their care, though patients may need to consent to be charged.
Use Your Electronic Health Record (EHR)
Many EHRs offer functionality like online bill pay as well as email reminders to pay their bills. It may be easier to reach patients through email and can speed up your billing process, especially if you automate reminders. Make the most of your EHR by expanding the billing functions.
You can work with patients throughout their care, from admissions to discharge, to help them understand the billing process and increase the likelihood you’ll receive what you are owed. For more information on creating a great billing and collections process, contact Datapro billing for consultations, staff training and more