By Lizzie Lovett, Marketing Specialist
Collecting patient payments is costly and frustrating for healthcare providers of all sizes: large hospital systems and independent home medical equipment dealers struggle with low collection rates and high costs to collect. It is a multi-billion per year problem that plagues the healthcare industry. Addressing this problem successfully is crucial for long-term financial success.
HME providers have a unique set of circumstances that necessitate an effective way to capture patient payments. CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) recently implemented lower reimbursement rates further driving the importance of collecting this revenue. Compounding this, the competitive bidding requirement has increased competition between HME providers forcing lower prices and smaller profits.
Here are a few HME-specific guidelines for implementing an effective patient payment strategy.
Traditional healthcare statements are always confusing for patients – deciphering what their insurance owes versus what they owe can be baffling. An HME statement must convey very clearly what insurance, Medicare or Medicaid is paying and the rate they reimburse, what the patient owes, and how the patient can pay. The statement is the provider’s single greatest opportunity to capture the patient’s attention so that he will settle the debt.
Maximize Operational and FTE Efficiency
HME providers are usually small businesses with limited human resources. Handling patient calls and processing payments quickly detracts from the time they can allocate to other tasks that can grow their business. Billing must be outsourced to a third-party billing office or automated. Depending on the size of the enterprise, outsourcing billing and collections can be costly. An internally managed automated payment processing system often delivers the greatest ROI for a small to mid-sized HME provider.
Automate Payment Plans
Only 60% of payment plan payers are compliant and pay their monthly balance. Relying on the patient to respond to a paper statement is risky. Automated payment plans that are linked to a patient’s credit card or bank account are 100% compliant and easily managed. Many HME providers have regularly recurring payments from the same customer. An automated payment plan can make these collections more effective for the dealer and easier for the patient.
The cost to collect patient payments is too high. HME providers who implement billing software or employ third-party billing offices should ensure that they are not committed to monthly fees, recurring charges and high usage costs that can eat away at the profits and negate the money collected. Fees should be directly tied to usage and be on a per-statement basis, giving providers flexibility.
To learn more about how Patientco can help you implement an effective patient payment strategy, contact us here or give us a call at 1-888-747-2455.