Woodcock Wisdom: Creating Payment Plans that Actually Work, Part 2
Guest blogger Elizabeth Woodcock builds on the self pay payment plan strategies she began last week with Creating Payment Plans that Actually Work, Part 1. We're extremely excited to introduce Elizabeth, a widely-reputed consultant, speaker and author who has championed improvement in medical practice operations and revenue cycle management for nearly 20 years.
Last week Elizabeth laid the groundwork for patient payment plans: establish parameters, don't get suckered, encourage patients to agree to a twice-monthly payment plan and reduce the cost of administration. Here are the final three strategies for accommodating patients while maintaining a healthy bottom line for your practice:
Engage the patient. Don’t just offer the payment plan outright; ask the patient, “How much more time do you need?” Leading the discussion with this question puts the onus on the patient, engaging him or her in the development of the plan (and hopefully, the completion of it as well).
Develop a monitoring mechanism. Most practices deploy payment plans, but do little to monitor them once executed. If a collector decides to review plan compliance, it typically consumes hours to parse out who’s paid – and who hasn’t. To avoid this problem, create a separate category in the billing system – a “payment plan” financial class. Transfer balances to the new class, just as one would to a secondary payer, for example. On a regular basis, pull invoices with no payments applied in 30 days into a work queue. Focus on these invoices with missed installment payments.
Offer discounts. It might be possible to avoid a payment plan altogether by offering “prompt pay” discounts to patients who pay their balances quickly (i.e., a time-limited discount offer if the bill is paid within 10 days of the patient’s visit). Payment plans are an important component of the revenue cycle strategy of a medical practice, particularly as financial accountability is shifted to the patient. By creating payment plan protocols, you can maximize the time and effort on the part of your staff - and help your patients cope with this fundamental shift in responsibility for payment.
So there you have it. Payments plan tips you can start putting in place today. What questions do you have? We're listening.