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Tips for Collecting Account Balances from Your Patients


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Concerned about collecting payments from patients with account balances? These slides cover important trends in medical bill collections and best practices for medical bill collections.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Tips for Collecting Account Balances from Your Patients

  1. 1. How to Collect Account Balances from Your PatientsSimplifying and Unifying Communications Through Technology
  2. 2. Practices Collecting Directly from Self-Pay Patients • Rising numbers of uninsured & underinsured in U.S. – 47 million Americans (15.4%) are uninsured (CDC National Center of Health Statistics) – 25 million Americans are underinsured • More is paid out of pocket as deductibles and co-pays for employee sponsored plans continue to rise – Employees need to contribute more for health care – Dependent coverage cut – High deductible health care plans gaining popularity • Bad debt on the rise – Health care bad debt is at record levels – U.S. hospitals have $40 billion in unpaid patient bills (MSNBC)Simplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  3. 3. Medical Billing vs. Medical Collections • The world of medical coders and billers – Coders are responsible for accurate coding of claims, they may audit and re-file appeals of claims – Billers gather information from patients & physicians, ensure that insurance forms are completed and signed, submit claims to insurance companies for reimbursement – Billers provide invoices to patients – Billers track payment process to ensure payment is received, they may handle patient inquiries – Billers sometimes contact patients about past due accounts • Collections not emphasized • If using an outside firm that charges per claim, they have little incentive to pursue past due accounts • Be wary of billing companies that own or have affiliate relationships with collection agenciesSimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  4. 4. Most Practices Mail Bill Reminders Source: Webley research, 2009 surveySimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  5. 5. Success of Medical Practices at Bill Collections Source: NaviNet, 2009 survey of medical practices N = 1279Simplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  6. 6. Concern Over Payments • The McKinsey Quarterly estimates that 40% - 50% of patient accounts receivables are uncollected (June 2007) – 50% to 70% of small dollar liabilities for insured patients are collected • “The number of physicians who said they were concerned with collecting from self-pay patients and those with high-deductible plans and/or health savings accounts rose from 50% a year ago to 60% this year.” (MGMA 2009 survey)Simplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  7. 7. Challenges of Internal Bill Collections • Patient privacy violations could lead to fines – Fair Debt Collection Practices Act • Could get in trouble for calling someone at their place of employment or discussing the debt with third parties, other than the person’s spouse or attorney • Slow, time-consuming, uncomfortable for office staff to make calls about account balances – Patient may not have privacy during call to speak about the situation – Staff has to deal with excuses, evasions, etc. – Calls aren’t consistently made • Easy for patients to ignore or overlook mailed statements – Phone calls more effective at getting attention – Mailing statements is expensiveSimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  8. 8. Bill Collections is Effortful but Necessary Source: 2008 McKinsey consumer healthcare payment surveySimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  9. 9. Best Practices of Bill Collections • Clear payment & collections policy communicated to patients – Post on website, at your practice, on patient statements – Remind patients when scheduling the appointment • Have new patients or patients you haven’t seen for awhile contact insurance verification department • Collect at the time of service whenever possible • Provide prompt billing & easy to understand patient statements • Late fees or charging interest on outstanding balancesSimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  10. 10. Best Practices of Bill Collections • Make it easier to pay – Online bill pay – Accept debit cards – Accept credit cards • A client of MBA HealthGroup went from collecting 15% of co-pays at the time of the visit to 40% after accepting credit cards • According to an article in the American Medical News (June 22, 2009): “practice management consultants say the option of credit cards is well worth the cost of transaction fees, compared with issuing paper statements and dealing with the hassles and costs of bounced checks.” • See privately insured on a cash only basis – Lower administrative cost because patient handles submitting the claim • May want to consider using collections agency for accounts over 90 days old – Choose a collections agency with healthcare experience – Agencies charge .33 per $1 collected and only collect 14% of the total amount due)Simplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  11. 11. Best Practices of Bill Collections • Send payment reminders – Contact those with outstanding balances at least once a month (30, 60, 90 days) – Automate account balance reminders – Combine phone and mail reminders to reach more patientsSimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  12. 12. Cost of Account Balance Notifications Manual Automated Savings Qty/Month Phone Calls $0.55 $0.15 $0.40 ? Postcards $0.50 $0.15 $0.35 ? Letters $1.00 $0.15 $0.85 ?Simplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  13. 13. How Webley MD Reminders Work Create file of patients with outstanding balances Campaign reports are Log in online, send generated data to Webley Messages sent to Personalized patients by phone, by messages generated emailSimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  14. 14. Webley MD User Interface 2 simple steps and your work is doneSimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  15. 15. Account Balance Script “This is a message from Dr. Smith with important information regarding the status of your account. Please call us within the next 24 hours at (123) 456-7890 during regular business hours to discuss this important matter. Thank you for your assistance.”Simplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  16. 16. Benefits of Automating Account Balance Reminders • Cost & labor savings – Save on postage costs – Save on labor • Easier & faster to remind patients – With consistent reminders, more patients will pay, shorter A/R cycle – Fewer accounts will go to collections agency • Improved staff & patient satisfaction – Fewer calls to make about payments – Patients will call in ready to discuss their accounts – Frees up staff time for patients – Frees up phone lines, reduces phone tag • Reduce exposure to legal liability Better cash flow, increased office efficiencySimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  17. 17. Webley Corporate Overview • Founded In 1997 • Industry Pioneer in Advanced Speech Applications: • Unified Communications • After Hours Messaging • Broadcast Messaging • 7 Advanced Speech Patents • 50,000 Active Customers • Delivering 180,000,000 Transactions Per Year • Fully Redundant Data Centers • Numerous Awards For Technology Product of the Year, including: Recipient of 2009 Product of the Year Award for Webley MD Reminders from Customer Interaction Solutions MagazineSimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology
  18. 18. For additional information: 1-877-7-WEBLEY info@webley.comSimplifying & Unifying Communications Through Technology