6 Tips for Not Leaving Money on the Self Pay Table

Are you doing all you can to bring in every dollar of self pay revenue?

Facing an expanding patient pay population, healthcare organizations must maximize cash collections and maintain a positive patient healthcare experience. Yet many lack the know-how to do just that. The most common problem with revenue cycle management strategies in modern healthcare organizations is that they still take a traditional, passive approach to collecting payments. Not being proactive can severely impact self pay performance, resulting in money left on the table. No one wants that.

Here are six ways to improve your self pay A/R follow-up strategy and leverage technology to enhance the patient experience and collect what is rightfully owed for the excellent care you provide.

1) Patient Communication

In real estate, we hear “location, location, location” as the key element to the success or satisfaction of any given property. Similarly, “communicate, communicate, communicate” should be the mantra when trying to maximize your cash collections. Commonly, statements are sent, but it ends there for most self pay programs. When you proactively follow-up with your patients and educate them on the various elements of their medical bills, you will boost your bottom line, because those who understand their financial responsibility are exponentially more likely to pay.  Conversely, a lack of patient-friendly communication creates a barrier that often results in non-payment, confusion and patient dissatisfaction. 

MediRevv places a  high priority on meeting best practice in patient statement design. Our intent is to lead patients naturally toward the decision to pay by helping them understand how much they owe and find answers to their questions quickly. Clear, accurate statements, sent timely, will improve the overall patient experience. 

2) Implement the rhythm and rigor of patient collections follow up

So, after statements are sent, what is there to do besides wait for the phone to ring?  The likelihood of collecting patient payments decreases by as much as 50% every 30 days that the account ages. After 3 statements are sent with no activity, the chance of getting paid dwindles, and by the fourth statement your chance for patient payoff is as little as 6%. It is time for your organization to gear up for a calling campaign. Proactive and predictive dialing technology allow you to get through thousands of account touches per day as opposed to fewer than 100 by traditional manual dialing methods.

How you dial is important, but so is who you dial first. MediRevv's patient contact strategy includes real-time scoring of a patient's propensity to pay. To ensure we're patient-friendly, we do not use credit scores (no soft or hard hits) but rather a collection of 45 independent databases with 300 billion records covering 99% of U.S. adult consumers. Using data hierarchies for individual, household and neighborhood, we generate a score ranging from 0-999, with the higher number indicating a higher probability of payment.  And that's how we know who to call first — the segmentation strategy is effortless.

3) Have a payment plan structure in place to offer patients

What if there is zero effort resolve a balance? Patients are sending a clear message with their lack of response or activity. Since nearly 15% of payments come from a payment plan strategy, the next step in the process is to offer a payment plan option to work out resolution of the outsanding medical bill. It’s important to make sure you offer an alternative that is reasonable for the patient, yet meets the policies and financial commitments to the organization.

For instance, you don’t necessarily want a patient to have an multiyear payment plan since it most likely will be non-interest bearing; that would cost more to administer than it would to collect. If the patient doesn't have insurance in place (or is underinsured), the conversation might need to turn to offering a discount. Getting paid a portion is better than not getting paid at all.

Payment plans don't happen in a vacuum; they require open communcation, and — on the part of the patient specialist — compassion, respect and patience. Further, technology is expanding options, too, with online payment negotiators and other portal tools that help patients understand their own balance and responsibly pay it down.

4) Offer your patients technology to pay their bills

Patients want to establish their own payment terms: when, where, and how. On-line payment technology in this day and age is very familiar, so the idea of offering your patients the opportunity to pay their medical bills via a payment portal should be a highly accepted practice.

Another payment option that appeals to patients is the ability to make quick and convenient payments 24/7/365 on their mobile or landline phones through an advanced payment Interactive Voice Response system (IVR.) This solution quickly (~2 minutes) satisfies the needs of patients who just want to pay their bill.  It reduces call abandonment and wait times across the board, and allows patient specialists to focus their efforts on assisting patients who have more complex billing inquiries and financial questions. So in both instances, the overall patient experience ends on a confident note. 

Catering to the patient’s payment preferences will result in quicker payment, a less expensive employee cost, and expedited timeliness of payment.

5) Have the right person in place for Self Pay collections

Typically someone with a more limited skill set is put in place to manage the self pay collection process. This might not be the best approach. You need to invest in a person who will have the skills to handle patient-facing roles and deal with the nuances of patient financial communications. They need to be able to knowledgeably react to the situation at hand, and solve the patient challenges without relying solely on a “script.”

This role is critical in driving improved self pay performance in your organization. In addition, if specialists are  truly educating patients about their financial responsibility, they will also need to understand how a balance ended up as patient responsibility. So, they will need to be insurance experts as well.

90% of MediRevv's Accounts Receivable Specialists hold college degrees, and each participates in extensive training to understand the ins and outs of the billing process as well as and how to provide the best customer service to every patient, every time.

6) KPI Management

Are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place? Make sure you are managing staff effectiveness and productivity when it comes to patient communication. What quality programs are in place? Do you drive daily performance metrics? Are you recording calls for training opportunities? Do you track your statement performance? Are your specialists approaching the patient correctly so that the payment process is optimized? If not, you need these tools in place to drive top decile self pay performance. 

MediRevv created a web-based, database-driven application for tracking employee activity that delivers the following benefits:

  • Centralized data location
  • Team, position, and name changes are reflected automatically to link to individual client profitability data
  • No need to file help desk ticket for changes
  • Access to real-time and historical data
  • Multiple users can use at once
  • Enhanced reporting and dashboards
  • Future automated processes

Monitoring KPIs and managing any trends that are identified will result in better revenue performance overall and improved patient relations.

The Bottom Line

If you see the need to put these suggestions into action, but you're lacking technology and/or staff, co-sourcing these services to a firm that specializes in revenue cycle management can reap major benefits that will not only decrease your bad debt while increasing your cash collections, but also benefit your overall revenue as a result. More importantly, partnering will allow you to concentrate on delivering the best patient financial experience possible. If you're ready for your next steps, click on the download below!

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About Kent Smith, Vice President, Sales

Kent Smith, Vice President, Sales

Kent leads MediRevv’s new business sales initiatives and marketing and account management programs. He has built, from the ground up, a cohesive team of healthcare sales and marketing professionals who understand the critical aspects of any engagement: exceeding the expectations of and creating value for our clients; building enduring, mutually beneficial partnerships; and maintaining transparency and a high level of trust in our execution.

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