A winning self pay strategy: consistency is key
We’ve talked a lot about self pay in recent blogs, particularly about the reasons why focusing on your collections and developing a solid strategy is vital to the health of your organization’s revenue cycle.
Interestingly, while hospitals across the US are, indeed, focusing on their self pay efforts, we’ve found that the approaches towards patient collections differ dramatically from organization to organization.
This is evidenced by a recent FierceHealthFinance article that quoted watchdog group100Reporters, which had examined the self pay protocols of several non-profit and tax-exempt hospitals and found quite a disparity.
According to the group, one hospital in Colorado “collects $50 upfront from self pay patients,” while another in North Dakota “requires that self pay patients pay the facility 10 percent of their total bill, regardless of whether it takes years or decades to do so.”
Perhaps best representing the disparity and inconsistencies in approaches is the gap between how one Minnesota health network gets tough with patients about their financial responsibility for payment, going as far as to send “collection agents to the patients’ bedsides,” and another in Michigan that delivers care to any patient with income below the federal poverty level for free.
When developing a self pay strategy in our patient-centered, patient-as-consumer environment, where delivering a positive patient experience is vital to your organization, serious thought must be given to where your approach will fall within this spectrum. While there may be disparity across organizations in how self pay is handled, as illustrated above, your approach should consistently provide a positive patient experience. Every time!
Here are some consistent steps you can take to improve your self pay efforts:
Consistently communicate with your patients Communication is key to self pay success. Many hospitals still send statements and then drop the ball. Repeated outbound communications, where you’re educating your patients regarding their medical bills and the reasons behind them, are mission-critical for self pay success.
Following up is following through And following through with positive patient communication and engagement must now be viewed as a continuation of the care you provide to all your patients. It’s good medicine and it’s good business.
Continuously gauge and manage your staff’s effectiveness When it comes to dealing with your patients in these and other ways, are you measuring your effectiveness? You definitely want to have a number of quality programs in place, and you’ll want to consistently track financial performance to ensure that your payment process is as streamlined as possible.
For every 30 days an account ages, you’re chances of collecting decrease by as much as 50%. Add just that one statistic to your desire to provide outstanding patient experiences, and it’s easy to see why consistent, compassionate self pay collections are necessary and important for your organization.