Patient balances present one of the most significant challenges in healthcare especially for surgery centers. With ever-rising healthcare costs, ambulatory surgery centers (ASC’s) see an increase in the number of patients that have high deductible health insurance plans. Patient obligations have increased 29.4 percent since 2015, and many are finding it difficult to pay off their medical bills and large out-of-pocket costs.
ASC’s invest significant resources and time to settle overdue payables from patients who are unable to manage paying off their medical bills. Many surgery centers find themselves reaching out to patients, sending letters, emails, and calls in an effort to collect from self-pay patients.
However, collecting from patients is not naturally the expertise of a healthcare facility, so surgery centers often get the help of an RCM (revenue cycle management) partner or collections vendor.
How can your ASC work more effectively with its RCM partners to handle self-pay collections? What do you need to look for in selecting a third-party collections partner? Here are 3 tips to consider:
1. Implement Digital Payment Transmissions
Interestingly, the increase of high-deductible plans has also coincided with the trend of healthcare consumerism. Patients now expect that they can pay their bills and manage their accounts online from their mobile phones or desktops.
Surgery centers can work with their RCM partners to step up their game and make it easy for patients to register by tablet and pay electronically and get payment in advance for elective procedures.
With self-pay patients, it is important to choose partners that are able to offer automatic enrollment in payment plans and financial counseling to avoid revenue leakage.
2. Leverage Automation Technology
By its nature, self-pay accounts are risky. The cost to collect could reach up to three times higher than on commercial insurance accounts. The longer a self-pay balance goes unpaid, the harder and costlier it is to collect it.
This is why automation is becoming the new standard in revenue cycle management. Choose partners that can use automation to step up collection efforts of past due medical debts, decrease human error, maximize productivity, reduce costs, and streamline processes.
Here are four essential areas that needs vendor automation especially for self-pay accounts:
Daily accounts submission
Daily payment and adjustment account reconciliation
Vendor collections automatically directed to existing merchant services
Automatic invoices that are gross remit and auto-paid
3. Focus on Personalization: Patient-Centric Financial Experiences
With the help of your RCM partner and the use of technology, your facility can gain visibility into patient payment behavior and identify trends, bottlenecks, and needs. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work with self-pay accounts. Hence the need for better personalization.
Here are some areas to focus on to create patient-centric financial experiences:
Improve medical bill (eliminate areas of confusion)
Using price transparency tools
Patient education strategies
Flexible payment methods
Patient financial advocates
Having trained and patient-friendly staff (front-end and collections)
Better patient communications
The key to better personalization is using technology and training your staff. Work with your RCM partner to have full visibility into where all payments are coming from and have daily activity reports on all types of payments received, categorized according to account number, source of payment, etc. By having a 360-degree view of patient payment behavior, your ASC can create strategies that would personalize self-pay collections and achieve higher success rates.