How to Streamline the Patient Payment Collections Process When Staff Is Stretched Thin
Patient payment collections are certainly one of the less glamorous but more important processes for urgent care centers, hospitals and private practices alike. Sometimes collections processes can take longer than expected, whether that’s because patients aren’t expecting their bill, don’t have the money to pay for it or simply forget.
In traditional collections processes, your staff needs to manually follow up with each of these patients to ensure their payments come through. While this is certainly an important job, it often places an unnecessary burden on staff without producing the desired result. This stress is magnified during the challenges and resource limitations brought about by COVID-19.
Below, we unpack some of these issues with manual collections and explore how to streamline your process.
Common Problems With Traditional Collections
Manual Follow-Up Takes Time Away from Patient Care
If your staff is constantly following up on outstanding payments, they aren’t able to spend as much time or devote as much attention to the patients who are actually in front of them. Improving health outcomes is the top priority for healthcare providers.
Between delivering top-quality care and ensuring that patients feel heard and understood (let alone handling a potential influx of patients due to COVID-19), staff often don’t have time for much else. Adding in payment collections can take too much time away from providing the level of care your patients expect.
Generic Messaging Hurts Productivity
This might sound counterintuitive. After all, writing something once and then sending it to everyone sounds like the ultimate time-saving tactic. Unfortunately, one-size-fits-all messaging usually doesn’t resonate with healthcare consumers, which means your staff probably has to follow up with patients more than once.
Personalized Messaging is Too Time-Consuming
Unfortunately, the opposite can also be true. Trying to create custom messaging for every single patient every time you need to follow up requires a lot of time and resources. If you don’t have some sort of semi-automated process that helps you customize messaging without starting from scratch every time, then collections can become a significant undertaking.
Luckily, though, there are a few ways you can make the patient payment process more efficient, beginning before the patient even has their appointment.
How to Enhance Patient Payment Collections
Provide Online Price Estimates
Giving patients a pre-service out-of-pocket estimation is one of the best ways to increase their speed to payment. By having even a vague idea of what they’ll owe, patients are less likely to be surprised when they open the bill. In turn, they’ll be more inclined to pay it faster.
Offer Payment Plans
If you notice that many of your patients aren’t able to pay larger bills, consider implementing a payment plan option. Patients can begin to make progress on it, and you can begin the collections process instead of waiting for them to find the money to pay the whole thing all at once. Using a system like PatientBond that includes automated payment reminders makes this strategy even easier, as patients will get notifications without needing your staff to remember and send the information.
Use Psychographic Segmentation
A consumer science like psychographic segmentation can help you craft customized messaging that resonates with each of your patients without needing your staff to start from scratch every time. PatientBond’s priority psychographic segmentation model allows you to group patients into one of five categories by their traits, values, lifestyles and motivations. With these insights, you can design communications that more effectively encourage healthcare consumers to hear your message and respond.
By leveraging psychographic segmentation in conjunction with automated payment reminders, PatientBond helps urgent care centers, hospitals and private practices motivate individual patient behavior without burdening staff. Facilities that have implemented the PatientBond platform have seen a 61% increase in patients making payments. Beyond that, it saves clinical staff 2-3 hours a day to worry less about following up with collections and focus more on improving the patient experience.
Automating your patient payment reminders isn’t difficult and you can make your staff’s lives easier in the process. The more targeted your communication can be, the more likely your patients are to complete their payments on time, thus making your whole collections process more efficient and shortening your revenue cycle.For more on psychographic segmentation and how it influences patient behavior, download our whitepaper.