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Patient Collection Strategies & Tips

by davidharvey

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In any medical practice, you may encounter problems with patient collections. Here are a few things that may help make things easier for you.

Use cycle billing for statements. Not all <a href="http://www.medical-billing-guide.com/medical-billing-training.html">medical billing software and training</a> includes this feature, but if you have it, I encourage you to use it. Most offices send out statements once a month. Cycle billing allows you to print statements on a more timely basis. For example, if you print your statements weekly, your statement run will include new statements based on EOB postings since the last week plus all statements for unpaid transactions billed 30 days ago (or any number of days you want.) This is advantageous because it reduces the time between the patient encounter and the delivery of the statement, which in turn would improve your chances of reimbursement.

Prepare remainder statements for every patient on the schedule each day. If your designated medical biller has the time to do it, this would be most helpful. At the very least, you could print the statements for patients with past due balances on the schedule.

Attach the EOB to the statement. Not all patients are easy to collect from. Practically speaking, you wouldn’t do this often but occasionally it is a good idea if the balance is large and the insurance carrier pays an amount different than expected. As we all know, some patients will call and complain in whatever situation.

Implement a “Three strikes and you’re out” rule. Sometimes patients can’t make payments on time. However, if payment is not received by the third statement and you cannot contact the patient, it’s recommended to turn the account over to a collections agency. Stamp the second statement as past due and the third statement with a collections action warning. You can ask your collection agency for help on how to construct the statements. Typically, the warning will prompt the patient to pay. You can follow up with a phone call after the given grace period. Before calling out, remember that due to HIPAA regulation, the patient has the right to request limitations on telephone messages. If you must leave a message, you need to say you are calling about a billing matter and ask the patient to return the call. This gets the point across without violating patient privacy. If you still receive no response, then turn the account over to collections. Be sure to mark the patient’s account of the action taken. Most software has a note features that will appear if the receptionist schedules a future appointment for the delinquent patient.

It is fairly common that many provders are reluctant to send patients to collections. If this is your experience, you will have to consider doing a better job on collecting copays and deductibles up front.

Consider sending electronic statements if you have a large volume of patient statements. If your practice is growing steadily, and you have a lot of patients to send statements too, think of cutting down on mailing costs and saving time by offering paperless billing to patients.

If you follow patient collection strategies, you are certain to improve your cash flow for your practice.

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