When it comes to finding patient payment solutions, there is no shortage of options. With the way that healthcare has evolved over the past 20 years or so, payment methods have also changed. Since higher deductibles and co-insurance are on the rise with many insurance carriers, more patients will need to find new ways to pay for their healthcare, which puts the pressure on doctors and hospitals to ensure that patients get access to care.
Types of Patient Payments Solutions
Plans for payments in healthcare can vary from provider to provider, but they usually have a similar structure. Many practice management systems have ways for providers to customize their patient payment policies, so it’s best to talk to your software vendor about what is available.
The main types of patient payments solutions include:
1) Cash/Check – Some providers require payment up front, but others have a built-in grace period to encourage more patients to pay their bills.
2) Insurance – If you contract with carriers, then they will provide you with electronic remittance advice (ERA), which can be automatically loaded into your system so that the data is available for billing and payment posting.
3) Credit Cards – This is one of the most popular methods for patient payments today because there are many types of cards that patients can use, and they’re easy to process. However, providers do need to pay fees when accepting credit cards.
4) Self-Pay – If you don’t contract with insurance carriers or bill patients, then you will most likely be dealing with self-pay accounts. This can be burdensome for providers because they must send out statements and deal with patient follow-up. Many times, interest begins to accrue on balances that are not paid or agreed upon payment plans.
Ways to Make Payment Process Easier
One of the best ways to make patient payments easier is by implementing a healthcare payment platform in your office. While you may not think that this would be something necessary, it can help thousands or even millions of people a year get through your doors. Here are some of the benefits of using a platform:
1) Patient Eligibility – One of the first types of patient payments solutions that a payment platform can provide is eligibility checking. This helps ensure that patients have insurance or are otherwise qualified to become a new patient at your practice, which means more revenue for you. In fact, some platforms can also determine if an existing patient has insurance and the level of coverage they have. This helps providers increase their collections and avoid denials and write-offs.
2) Multi-Currency – If you treat people from all over the world, then a multi-currency payment platform can help you determine what forms of payments your international patients can use. Then when they make their payments, it can be sent to you in their local currency.
3) Patient Reminders – One of the biggest reasons that providers have a hard time collecting payment from patients is because the patient forgot about their visit or didn’t understand how much they owe. By integrating a reminder system into your platform, you can set up automated emails and text messages to patients, which will help remind them of their outstanding balances and encourage payment.
4) Ease of Use – One of the most important things to consider when it comes to finding ways to make patient payments easier is whether or not the solution you choose will be easy for your staff to use on a daily basis. If it isn’t, they likely won’t use it, which means that patient collections will decline because you aren’t finding the right ways to make the payment process easier.
5) Customization – Finally, in addition to ensuring that your staff can easily use the platform, you also want to ensure that your solution is customized for your needs. This includes determining what services are included in your fee schedule, the ability to accept different forms of payment, and ensuring that your platform can be integrated with any other software you use in your office.
Payment Solutions Healthcare Organizations Should Adopt
One of the most popular ways to increase payments for your services is by offering patients financial savings. Financial savings are one type of patient pricing program that providers can use to attract more patients and encourage payment.
1) Tiered Pricing – By charging different amounts for similar but not identical healthcare services, it is possible to attract the specific type of patient that is looking for a certain price point. This helps ensure that your practice is not overwhelmed with people searching for the lowest price and helps you collect more revenue per patient visit.
2) Customizable Pricing – While tiered pricing allows providers to increase payment simply by creating different pricing structures, customization gives providers even more options when it comes to customizing their patient payment solutions. This includes the ability to set specific prices for any service you provide, accept different forms of payment, and determine specific eligibility criteria that patients must meet to be eligible for discounts.
3) Online Payments – One way that providers can increase the number of patients who pay their balance at or before their visit is by allowing them to make online payments. By doing this you make it easy for patients to pay, which means that more will.
4) No Paper Billing – Many payment solutions provide providers with the option of not billing patients at all! That’s right, by allowing your practice to give out an invoice number instead of asking your patient to pay their balance before their visit, you can increase the number of paid visits your practice gets.
5) Cash Discounts – A cash discount is a cost-effective way to reduce patient accounts receivable and increase payments from patients who pay at the time of service. By offering this, you’re encouraging people to pay earlier, which means that they have less outstanding balances on their account.
There are many ways to make patient payments easier, but not all of them work for every practice. By considering your specific needs and consulting with a finance expert to find the best solution, you can improve collections and increase cash flow.
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