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POSTS BY TAG | Patient payments

Patient making payment using smartphone


Finances and the revenue cycle can be a high source of stress for providers, who let’s be honest, would much rather focus on patient care. However, effectively managing a practice's revenue is crucial to actually being able to continue to provide that care. One of the most unpredictable phases of the revenue cycle is collecting patient responsibility, which often results from the high variance in payment methods as well as hesitation to pay due to a lack of understanding of insurance systems. Simply put, many patients don’t know what they owe and why.

Why Is Collecting Patient Payments So Hard?


According to the American Association of Family Physicians, only 14% of adults understand key components of their insurance plans. This confusion and uncertainty can often make it difficult to determine a patient’s financial responsibility at the time of a visit, leading to even more frustration when they get a bill in the mail months later that they don’t understand. Estimation tools and insurance cards can help ease this uncertainty or to point a practice in the right direction, but ultimately most patients end up in the dark when it comes to what they will owe in the end. 

Patients Want a Better Healthcare Payment Experience


Traditionally, many practices end up providing services for free, collecting a small insurance co-pay, or sometimes not even that, and then opting to bill the patient later, after collecting from insurance first. The problem is the process of settling with and collecting from insurance companies can take days, weeks, or even months and by that time patients are far less likely to pay for bills they receive long after services rendered. In fact, more than 60% of patients surveyed by InstaMed reported they would “consider switching providers for a better healthcare payment experience,” which includes upfront patient responsibility, eligibility, and the ability to pay with their preferred payment methods. 

Real Time Eligibility & Patient Responsibility Estimate Tools Help


With this in mind, it’s hard to believe less than 25% of physician practices have an eligibility and estimation tool in place to assist their practices in maximizing revenue, according to Healthcare Finance News.  By providing real-time patient responsibility estimates, providers can increase patient confidence and are more likely to collect the full amount they are owed for their services. Without an eligibility solution in place, practices could potentially be missing out on between 30-50% of their patient revenue. 

Adapting to The Next Generation of Patients


Speed and transparency make a huge difference when it comes to collecting patient payments. Giving your patients the tools to make the process as simple as possible is key to not only collecting but collecting quickly with high patient satisfaction. Many practices still rely on mailed statements and/or in-person payments, such as cash, check, or credit card, which can be a major hindrance, especially when it comes to younger generations. 

Gen Z, which are those born between 1995 and 2012, is expected to account for an estimated 61 million new employees in the global workforce in the next decade. Why is this important? Well, the majority of Gen Z have never lived without the internet, smartphones, and immediate access to information and products. With an influx of Gen Z patients, the expectation is that practices make it easy to receive and pay for care. If it’s not, they may seek care elsewhere. 

Make Paying Medical Bills Fast & Easy for Patients


It’s much easier to collect payments when the patient is standing in front of you, but even if they’re not, the quicker a practice requests payment, the more likely patients are to pay it. Recent trends in expected payment options have shown nearly 50% of patients would prefer to pay their medical bills using contactless or paperless payment options. Practices using paper statements introduce significant lag into their collection systems by relying on mail carriers and printing/packing services. Recent improvements in payment processors and the technology they offer have made it possible to send statements and payment requests in real-time to speed up collections and boost patient satisfaction and confidence. 

Everything Should Be in One Place


The last part of the equation is making sure everyone in the practice is on the same page regarding patients’ financial status. The fewer systems involved, the less room for error and inefficiency. From patient intake to collecting payments, it’s important to be able to do everything in one place without having to log into multiple systems to piece together information.

Find Out How pMD Medical Billing & RCM Services Can Help


If you are interested in learning more about pMD’s billing and revenue cycle management services, please contact us here or give us a call at 800-587-4989 x2. We’d love to hear from you!

 

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registry, billing services, telehealthsecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.

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Improved medical billing and payment system boosts patient satisfaction

Everyone who has received medical care in the U.S. has experienced the complex system built around paying for the care you receive. From complicated insurance types to delayed and unforeseen bills, many agree that the financial burdens that come from U.S. health care are the toughest to swallow. The system, in all its complexity, is difficult for a reason. The negotiations that take place between insurance carriers and medical billing teams determine the amount that each patient has to pay on a case-by-case basis. The limited forms of payment exist for the security of the patient and the protection of their private health information. But is there a way to improve the patient experience when it comes to paying for medical care?

Providing Patients Cost Estimates & Easy Way to Pay for Medical Care

In 2018, in a survey conducted by HIMSS Analytics, researchers found that 68% of patients would be more likely to return to a practice for future care if a cost estimate was available to them at the time of service. It was also found that 75% of patients wished they could keep a credit card on file for any balances that come up during their care. Simple fixes go a long way towards improving patient retention and driving practice growth. The easier you make it for your patients to pay for their care, the more money you are likely to receive.

Benefits of Providing Patient Care Cost Estimates

Cost estimates of patient care are one of the largest things a practice can do to make patients feel more financially comfortable while navigating their episode of care. An unforeseen bill, or one that is larger than expected, can unsettle a patient and may lead to higher rates of uncollected revenue. Upfront estimates provide peace of mind and allow patients to make informed decisions about the care they are receiving. The HIMSS Analytics survey found that 46% of patients also said they would be more likely to pay a significant portion of their bill upfront if an estimate were available. This simple step can create massive benefits for both practice and patient by keeping all parties informed and engaged throughout all aspects of care.

Patients Prefer Modern Medical Billing & Payment Solutions

The growth of consumer culture in health care also means patients want to be able to pay for their visits using modern solutions. Scheduling apps and HIPAA-compliant payment portals are growing in popularity and patients are responding positively. By allowing patients to pay online, not only is the patient experience improved, but the providers will receive reimbursement for their work faster than paper billing alternatives. A 2016 survey by Aite Group shows that 56% of all bills that year were paid online, while 77% of health care practices specifically use paper billing systems. This comparison shows that the needs of the 50% of patients that state they would prefer online or paperless medical billing are not being properly addressed by their health care providers.

pMD Charge Capture the First Step

Tools like pMD® Charge Capture™ allow providers to capture their charges in real-time and reduce billing lag. These workflow improvements are the first step to providing patients with quick and accurate estimates of the money they owe and create more actionable opportunities for providers to maximize their revenue while driving patient growth. It all stems from the patient experience.

Related Articles:
What to Look For When Evaluating Charge Capture: Charge Lag Statistics
Health Care Communication: Electronic Vs. Paper Follow Up for Millennials


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.