Given the rise in high-deductible payment plans (HDHP) and patients choosing to shoulder more and more of the financial obligations for treatments and services received, determining patient responsibility has become priority for a practice. Instead of relying on insurance providers for payment collections, practices rely more on their patients to bolster their revenue cycle. They are forced to find ways to collect more of these patient responsibility balances in order to secure maximum revenue. This is not as easy as it would seem. Estimating and collecting patient responsibility involves keeping meticulous records and ensuring on-time follow-up. You do all this while establishing maximum patient satisfaction and them consistently choosing your practice over others and leaving positive reviews.
What is patient responsibility and payment collection?
The portion of a dental bill that the patient must pay out-of-pocket, not from their insurance company, is known as patient responsibility. It is the amount that the patients owe to their practice for dental services rendered. Deductibles and co-pays are perfect examples of this. Payment collection is simply the process of securing the patient payment.
How can you improve your patient responsibility payment collection?
Keep a payment plan ready
It is always better for practices to keep
a the payment plan ready for their patients. Having a proper payment plan can help you set up an efficient payment process to follow while attempting to collect on patient responsibility balances. It also reduces the chance of patients defaulting due to them not being aware of their responsibility. Following an established plan will help the patient responsibility collection process go smoothly. Given the complexity and diversity of healthcare plans, it may seem difficult to create estimates for each patient, but it cannot be avoided.
Don’t tiptoe around payment conversations
A conversation about patient payment responsibility may be uncomfortable to have but tiptoeing around the issue is never a solution. Getting your revenue is ultimately what your aim is. Be clear and direct. Your patients may already be confused and stressed about a lot of things, and you don’t want to make it even more difficult for them. Make sure that you convey the details of their responsibilities in a simple and easy manner.
Let the patient know in advance about their payment responsibility
Most practices fail to remind their patients of their payment responsibility prior to the services without realizing the impact it could have on their payment collection process. Avoid surprises by informing your patient about their treatment plan and financial commitment right at the beginning. Patients are more inclined to pay when they know in advance exactly how much they owe. Let them know about any deductibles, co-pays, and also give them an approximate estimation of the co-insurance amount. Conveying the probability of there being unexpected changes in the procedures or services is also something you should ideally do, as these changes could also result in changes in the payment responsibility of the patient.
Patients need to be prepared for the expenses that they will incur, for a quicker payment process. You also need to convey the potential for unexpected changes in payment amounts as changes in procedures can cause the final amount to differ. Remember, collecting from a patient requires a lot more effort than collecting from an insurance provider. This effort would magnify in cases where the patients are not aware of their payment responsibility prior to the visits, which is most of the time.
Provide multiple payment options
Having multiple payment options can benefit your practice in a lot of ways. It shows the patients that you are considering their convenience as opposed to simply ensuring that you receive your revenue. Even if your patients don’t have enough money on hand, they can easily opt for any other modes of payment such as debit or credit cards, checks, charge cards and mobile payment apps. This makes the payment process much easier for them and collection smoother for you.
Collect payments before the patient leaves the practice
Collecting payments at the time of the service is a good rule to follow. It’s always a good idea to get the payment from the patient before they leave the practice. Never leave any of the patient responsibility balances for future, especially if the patients owe more than the insurance provider. This increases the risk of payments going unpaid. In a lot of cases, late attempts to collect the payment can be exceedingly time-consuming and challenging.
Stay in touch with your patients
Remember to continuously stay in touch with your patients. This not only helps in building a bond with them but also helps in quicker patient payments. After initially informing the patient about their patient responsibility, make sure that you send reminders so that they don’t miss their payment due dates. Remember that your patients are also busy and paying for one specific service may not always be a priority for them. A reminder may be just what they need. This can help your practice maintain a faster and more efficient payment cycle.
Partner with an RCM Service provider
Focusing on the actual practice may become onerous if you are constantly worrying about patient responsibility. With a dental RCM service provider by your side, you will not have to worry about any of these as they help you manage all your RCM-related worries, including patient payment collection. Your RCM service provider works closely with your patients and makes sure that the full patient payments are collected on time allowing you to concentrate on the actual dental service.