The Do's & Don'ts of Urgent Care Collections
Increasing patient payments is an important task for any urgent care center, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We’ve put together a list of the best and most important do’s and don’ts to help you know where to focus your efforts and restructure your collections process!
- Do use psychographic segmentation to the fullest extent.
Psychographic segmentation classifies people based on their lifestyle, motivations, personalities and values. Because of this, you can understand how to communicate and connect with your patients most effectively. With psychographic segmentation, you can create customized messaging that resonates with your audience and inspires them to take action — in this case, pay their bills.
In 2018, a PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, a national research study on healthcare consumers, found that one psychographic segment, Willful Endurers are statistically more likely than any other segment to prefer payment reminders more than 30 days after they’re due. This may not sound like much, but Willful Endurers, a segment that believes there are more important things to focus on than health, make up the majority of the general population at 31% and tend to be the most frequent urgent care visitors.
You may feel inclined to send the same messaging at the same time to all of your customers, adjusting your approach to appeal to each psychographic segment goes a long way to improving collections.
- Do verify your patient’s insurance information first.
By taking the extra step to verify that your patient’s insurance information is correct, you can be confident that the payment will come through on time. It might sound like a simple step, but it can save you a lot of headache when you go to collect payments.
- Do offer payment plans, especially for large bills.
Sometimes medical bills come as a surprise for patients, and they might not have the budget to pay them in full right away. By offering them a payment plan, they can begin to pay portions of that bill. In turn, this increases your chances of collecting the full balance as well as improves the overall patient experience.
- Do automate payment reminders.
Whether you offer payment plans or not, automating payment reminders can increase collections and reduce time to pay, all while reducing collections costs. You can also take this task off your staff’s shoulders so they can spend their time delivering high-quality care instead.
- Do provide payment and billing information before their visit.
Before the doctor sees a patient, discuss the payment process with them. This way they’ll know what to expect following their visit and they’ll be more likely to respond positively.
- Don’t accept only one form of payment.
If you lock your patients into one method of payment, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Consumers tend to have their preferred payment methods and if you don’t cater to those preferences, you might not see that money for a while. At the very least, offer to accept cash or credit (and multiple types of credit cards). If you’re able to accept PayPal or a different electronic means of payment, that’s even better.
- Don’t use one-size-fits-all messaging.
What compels one person to make a payment might make someone else throw the documentation in the garbage. Avoid using generic messaging as much as possible.Instead, use psychographic segmentation to create personalized communications that resonate with individual patients.
- Don’t forget about the patient experience.
You already know that the patient experience is important for surveys and reimbursements, but it’s also important for patient payment collections. Believe it or not, patients who have a good experience pay their bills faster. If you aren’t already focusing on improving the patient experience in your urgent care center, this is the time to do so.
- Don’t ignore overdue bills for patients — especially frequent patients.
It can be easy for patients to forget about (or ignore) bills, especially once they’ve received the care they needed. If you ignore unpaid bills or continue to provide (non-emergency) services to patients who haven’t paid, you’re hurting your own bottom line. Encourage your patients to make payments on their past-due bills when they come in for another appointment.
- Don’t hide the costs of services from your patients.
Your patient might know their budget for a particular issue they’re facing. If there’s a non-essential test that is out of their budget, be open with them about the cost and suggest another, more affordable care option. Being honest and transparent about cost — without compromising care — has been shown to increase patient loyalty. Likewise, it helps patients feel respected and empowered to fulfill their financial responsibility.
Collecting patient payments can feel like an arduous task, but it’s crucial for your urgent care center’s bottom line. By using these tips, you can decrease your revenue cycle and increase the likelihood of receiving payments on time.
For more patient payment insights, download our case study.