Quality care does not just start and end with the doctor visit. It encompasses everything from appointment scheduling to collecting payment on a patient’s bill.
With the change to a value-based reimbursement model, patients have a higher financial responsibility. Talking to patients about fees and collections is not easy, but it does offer an opportunity to build stronger patient-provider relationships. When you work in partnership with patients and approach them with courtesy and professionalism, you can expect better financial returns and a higher patient retention rate.
- Improve Communications with Patients – Patients that are more informed are happier and more likely to have a positive opinion of their provider. Educate your staff on how to discuss payments with patients and utilize an online patient portal so that patients can conveniently get questions answered, view visit history, and make payments online. Make sure to confirm appointments in advance and reach out when visits are overdue. Keeping the lines of communication open will instill trust in the patient and help them understand everything that you’re doing.
- Focus on the Individual, not the Money – Focusing on the individual patient before the bill can have a huge impact. Patients may be overwhelmed with their health questions or financial issues. Addressing them by name and letting them know you care is key. If a patient says they’re unable to pay their entire bill, ease the burden by offering to set up a payment plan. Pay attention to their needs or concerns, even if you believe it is out of your control.
- Be Transparent – You’ll want to inform the patient that a payment will be due at the time of service during appointment scheduling, if possible. Ensure that they understand their insurance coverage and their estimated financial responsibility. Have a process in place at check-in or check-out to secure payment. Be clear in your communication and follow-up to ensure the patient is on the same page.
- Practice Empathy – For some patients, talking about their finances can be stressful. Put yourself in their shoes and look for emotional cues to understand what the patient is feeling. Maintain an attitude of service and respond appropriately. Having a caring, interested demeanor can shape someone’s experience and is a simple way to make patients feel taken care of.
Improving the interaction and engagement with patients from beginning to end is how successful practices sustain a culture of respect and increase patient payments. Train your staff that every encounter is important and that their perceived attitudes can have an impact on a patient’s decision to return and their overall experience.