Collecting co-pays and even just payments in general can be a very awkward process, especially when a patient is being difficult. But collecting co-pays and remaining responsibilities not covered by the insurance payer affects a big part of your practice revenue, and should be collected in full before your patient leaves the practice. The key to avoiding conflicts and misunderstanding about payments is clear communication to your patients before they proceed to their appointment. Today, we show you 4 ways to improve patient collections in your practice.
How to Increase Optical Practice Patient Collections
Check for Eligibility
The best way to check for eligibility is to use the automated real-time eligibility systems provided by clearinghouses and practice management systems. These allow you to quickly get eligibility and authorization checks from multiple payers with complete benefit profiles, all in one place.
These systems help ensure that your walk-in patients have the right coverage on the spot, and that your scheduled patients have an idea of what their invoice might look like, before they even arrive for their appointment.
Eligibility checks should be done at least 2 days in advance for all upcoming patients. This way, you have enough time to contact the patient if you need more information, or if you need to discuss the rates for the scheduled service with patients who do not have enough coverage and to discuss payment for these services.
Make Policies Clear
Before your patients proceed to see the doctor, make sure they are briefed on all financial policies your practice may have. If you have an Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) of non-coverage, it’s a good idea to have them initial the paperwork to verify that they have read the notice and will be responsible for any remaining charges. If you want to implement a “credit card on file” system, make sure that your patients know that you have their credit card info, and will be charged accordingly after their visit. These policies should be communicated by the front desk staff, so ensure that your staff members receive proper training, which brings us to our next point.
Train Front Desk Staff
Your front desk staff should be firm about collecting payment. Instead of saying, “Would you like to complete payment today?” say, “How would you like to pay for your visit today? We accept cash, credit, and check.” This way, patients won’t be under the impression that they can be billed at a later date. Once they leave your practice, the chances of collecting payment drastically decreases.
You’ll find that some of your staff members might be better than others at collecting patient payments. Notice their techniques and “script” and get other staff members to learn from them.
Set Up Payment Plans
While there are a handful of patients who try to avoid making payments simply because they don’t want to, there are also others out there who are going through rough financial times, and might have trouble paying their bills. Setting up payment plans can help these patients pay for their bill, and you have a higher chance of collecting payments, albeit in a slower way. However, these payment plans should be a clearly written agreement. Highlight terms of the contract such as charging an interest fee to avoid disputes over clarity in the future.
Collecting co-pays is a small part of the entire claims management process your practice has to go through. Download our eBook, “8 Claim Filing Habits to Say Goodbye to in 2015” to see how you can improve claim filing in your practice!