First and foremost, you want to provide quality care for your patients. But you also want to be compensated appropriately for the care you’ve provided.
For guidance improving your medical business’s approach to patient responsibility and some tips on nine other common AR sins, download our free eBook 10 Deadly Sins of AR and How to Fix Them today.
The task of ensuring patient responsibility has always been a difficult one, but it’s only going to become more complex and troublesome to manage as countless patients move to high-deductible health plans.
The average person would probably assume that getting a bill to a patient and enabling them to easily pay for treatment would be a simple task. But when you think about the large number of patients, payment methods, and insurance companies and other payers that your AR department has to keep track of, you can see how patient responsibility can slip through the cracks.
Without ever intending to do so, some medical companies bill patients for balances that they should not be billing them for. For instance, your AR department may accidentally bill a patient above the contracted allowed amount established with the patient’s insurance company. Needless to say, this lack of transparency frustrates your staff and your patients alike.
But that’s just one potential misstep. Your team could also bill multiple insurance companies and receive payment, but still bill a patient above the amount a medicare plan or other option might pay.
Presently, your team has to be very careful not to upset patients during the billing process. They don’t want to bill a patient the wrong amount, follow up on a bill too aggressively, or prematurely contact a collections agency rather than waiting patiently for the person to settle the bill.
On top of the human actions of your staff that need to be taken into account when handling the delicate matter of patient responsibility, the tools that your AR department utilizes are less than ideal.
The legacy software your team uses is antiquated, driving up the cost of your billing department telling patients what they owe and making it more difficult for patients trying to pay you.
Solution: Follow-Up on Your Patient Responsibility
Following up when patients are not paying their bills requires a delicate touch. Consequently, patient responsibility is somewhat ignored. However, most billing offices know that in order to stay alive in a world of high-deductible health plans, it’s critically important they integrate the patient responsibility workflow into the overall revenue cycle process.
This means that there needs to be an audit of what the patient engagement process feels like from the patient perspective. To better understand a patient’s experience of the payment process, your medical practice needs to understand the various steps and factors of patient payment, such as:
- The receipt of payment at the front registration
- The setting up of payment plans
- The ability to easily pay using multiple methods (credit card, ACH, check)
- Follow-up mailings that go to the patient
- Other follow-up tactics, such as text messages with links to online payment, emails with links to online payment, and automated phone calls as payment reminders
Providers that are following up with patients for a clinical component should also integrate the data collection needed for patient responsibility after the date of service. There’s a good chance that your medical business is not currently doing this, because you don’t have the bandwidth, but we can streamline this aspect of your workflow.
Other issues related to payment responsibility that can really get a provider in trouble are:
- Billing the patient too much after the allowed amount has been stated from the primary,
- And/or secondary insurance and billing the rest of the charge amount to the patient
- Waiving the patient responsibility entirely
Both of these activities can be investigated and deemed fraudulent. Incorporating the patient responsibility collection into the overall workflow, then, is a way of not only collecting money that is owed your practice, but also of staying within the overall regulatory guidelines.
Make the workload at your medical business feel lighter and more manageable by letting by optimizing your workflow. Ensure that your software is doing all that it can, that your AR team has up-to-date information regarding payments, so you lose less money due to patient responsibility miscommunications and other issues.
Make sure your practice gets paid without putting off your patients. Download our free eBook 10 Deadly Sins of AR and How to Fix Them today to get a glimpse of how your medical business can improve the billing experience for your team and your patients alike. To learn more about handling patient responsibility, contact the RCM Brain ninjas by calling 1-855-RCM-BETH or filling out our easy-to-use online form.