When patients don’t pay their medical bills, maintaining a profitable medical practice can be extremely difficult.
To help physicians achieve billing success, the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) has developed a list of best practices for healthcare providers to follow when communicating with patients about paying their medical bills.
After conducting extensive secondary research and numerous focus groups, the message was clear: patients want to receive clear, concise, correct and friendly medical financial statements.
Clear, Concise, Correct and Friendly
For optimal results, all payment request letters should be easy to understand and written in clear language. Place balance information toward the top of the letter so patients can quickly determine their course of action.
Also, don’t waste time with long, drawn-out letters. Bills should contain only the minimum amount of information necessary to communicate your message.
Although it may seem obvious, always have staff double-check to ensure all the information in collection letters is correct. The statements should not include estimates of liabilities, incomplete information or errors. Sending a patient the wrong medical bill is a quick way to lose that patient to another “better organized” physician.
Finally, as with any practice to patient communication, whether verbal or written, always make sure payment requests are polite and put patient concerns first. The needs of patients should be paramount when designing administrative processes and communications.
The HFMA study also looked at issues like when and where to initiate a conversation on financial matters, who should conduct said discussion, how to handle outstanding balances and ways to measure compliance.
For instance, the guidelines state that patients should be given the opportunity to include an advocate or family member in the conversation. They also suggest that practices should provide patients with information and phone numbers for financial assistance programs alongside their discharge paperwork.
Other instructions included:
- Coordinate information gathering between all providers and insurers involved with the patient.
- Execute the collections process efficiently, privately, and with as little duplications as possible.
- Wait until after the medical encounter before communicating financial information.
- Constantly update the billing cycle by incorporating feedback from patients and payers.
Remember, collecting payments is essential in maintaining a healthy revenue cycle. Even high payer reimbursement rates won’t do much good if you’re payments are lacking on the patient end.
Want to experience a first-rate practice management system that improves collections? Register for the upcoming “Practice Management Made Really Easy” demo today.