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These tried and true tactics can help you improve your billings and collections-without the need for a computer screen.
If you’re looking for new ideas to improve your billing and collections, don’t exclusively focus on technology. We usually don’t think of low-tech solutions as innovative, but some of the best changes you can make don’t involve software. Here are three old-fashioned ways to help you get the job done.
Keep it simple
Everyone wants to be able to make sense of their medical bills, regardless of how they are delivered. “Medical bills can be confusing, even daunting,” says Brennan Cantrell, commercial health insurance strategist for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Bills don’t have to be overwhelming, though.
A little tweaking can make them easy to understand. The best way to update your invoices is to strip them down to the basics: balance, date of service, due date, and a number to call with questions. “If the bill is too hard to understand, the patient is more likely to put it aside to deal with later,” Cantrell says. By putting only the necessary information on the bill, you make it easier for patients to pay-and that means they’re more likely to pay promptly.
Learn the magic words
Asking for money is not everyone’s strong suit.
Be sure your staff is well trained in the best collection practices. This means knowing how to stay on the right side of collections law as well as how to communicate effectively. Barbie Hays, CPC, coding and compliance strategist for the AAFP, suggests having scripts for employees to follow. “It’s important to teach them not only what to say, but what not to say,” she says.
Training shouldn’t be limited to the front desk. Back office staff need to know the basic fee schedule, too. Nurses and physicians are often asked about costs and payment arrangements. Sometimes, a provider may reassure a patient who is worried about the cost of a procedure without really knowing what the procedure costs. Back office staff also need to know how to talk about payments legally and know not to promise patients things the billing office can’t deliver.
Skip the robocalls
Automated reminders can save time, but they might cost a practice in other ways. It may be beneficial to have someone from the office call with appointment reminders. When a human being calls, he or she can say something like, “I just wanted to remind you of your appointment Thursday. Be sure to bring your insurance information and copay when you come.”
Hays acknowledges that a recording could communicate the same message, but it probably won’t have the same effect. It’s far easier to ignore a reminder from a recording than from a friendly person who you might know or see in the next few days. Plus, a live call is a chance for patients to ask any questions in advance to make sure prior authorizations are completed and information is up to date.
Technology has made billings and collections easier. However, there are times when it’s best to stick to old-fashioned methods. Investing in a person may improve staff efficiencies and improve patient experiences.