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Improve Patient Education to Improve Medical Practice Collections


Does your medical practice receive a lot of patient complaints about bills? Here's how to prevent such issues from occurring.

Often patients misinterpret how, and how much, they will be billed for their visits.

Take for example, the copay. When patients pay a copay at time of service, they sometimes believe this is all they will owe. So when they receive a bill in the mail a few weeks later, they complain.  They call and say something like, "I was told I only had a $10 copay, and that's ALL I am paying!”

Addressing a patient concern like this one takes up staff time and hinders the collection process. Staff may feel so bad when speaking with a patient that they may even adjust off the patient's balance.

Problems due to payment misinterpretations, however, are avoidable if your front-office staff spends a few minutes prior to a patient's appointment explaining how the billing process works. 

A front-office person should come out to the lobby, sit with the patient, and explain each policy the patient will need to sign, including your practice's privacy policy, payment policy, and cancellation policy. This will indicate to the patient that he is valued and cared for.

Explaining the payment policy and how benefits work in a calm and professional manner will provide the patient with a much greater understanding of how his policy works. Over the years I have seen firsthand how many patients have a poor understanding of these important elements.  

Although this one-on-one patient explanation might seem like a concierge-type service, it's a sound investment to make in your practice. 

Patients will no longer misunderstand how payment works, and they will have a greater understanding of insurance. That of course, will translate to more streamlined patient collections. 

Patients will also have a better understanding of their benefits, which means they will  understand when billing questions and complaints should be directed to insurers, rather than to your practice.

With all of the insurance exchanges marketing to patients; and the print, electronic, and television ads touting “affordable plans” to your patient population, it is more imperative than ever to spend the time explaining patient benefits clearly.

Consider the time spent explaining payment and benefits to your patients as part of your customer service package. Train your front-office staff to step out from behind the desk, sit with the patient, answer any question, and build rapport. You won't be sorry.


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