In the current healthcare practices, hospitals spend a lot of time and money on patient statements. For this purpose, most healthcare organizations hire full-time employees who are entirely responsible to your patient statements. The responsibility includes mailing, printing, and managing the logistics of the medical bills of the patients. On the other hand, some outsource this process to tech companies to make the process more effective and efficient.
To run the office expenses smoothly, it is important to understand that there are certain practices that can improve the way of providing the patient statement and making them understand their responsibility towards their payables. However, the paper cost of the patient statement goes up quickly, if you remind a patient by sending one paper statement and you have 88 patients for supposing, it will add up to a serious expense on your end. For this, practices also need to switch to e-statements to reduce expenses.
According to the Trends in Healthcare Payment report 2019, 88% of practices still rely on paper-based patient statements, while 77% of patients show an inclination towards receiving online statements but 23% of them actually receive them.
In order to encourage patients to move to the next step after receiving the patient statement, providers have to face challenges. The challenges and tips for improving patient statements are discussed below.
What are Patient Statements?
Patient statements are documents that healthcare providers use to communicate the cost of services and products to patients. These statements typically include a detailed breakdown of the charges associated with a patient’s care, such as the cost of office visits, tests, treatments, and medications. Patient statements may also include information on insurance coverage, deductibles, copayments, and outstanding balances.
Patient statements are important for several reasons. They help patients understand the costs associated with their healthcare, which can be especially important for those without insurance or with high deductibles. Patient statements also provide an opportunity for patients to verify that the charges on their bills are accurate and that they have not been overcharged. Additionally, patient statements serve as a communication tool between patients and healthcare providers, allowing providers to address any concerns or questions that patients may have about their care or costs.
Overall, patient statements are an essential component of the healthcare billing process, providing transparency and clarity for patients regarding the costs of their care.
Tips for improving Patient Statement
Many providers rely on sending paper statements as is proved from the health report, oftentimes, patients expect a bit more from their provider. With the introduction of technology in every medical field, patients need access to alternative options rather than doing things manually. As their utility bills, grocery bills, and phone bills are shifted digitally, even if they need a hard copy of a patient statement they still need alternative access to pay their bills online. However, it is understandable that providers relying on paper statements must move to adopt such improvements that are beneficial at both ends.
This can be obtained by providing access to an online medical patient portal. This online accessibility will increase trust in the service provider and increase the level of interactions for medical care. To meet the needs, providers must send patient statements through the post for security and provide an alternative for an online transaction.
With a range of advertisements and card offers in the mail, patients often get confused and throw the mail in the junk not bothering to read the detail of the envelope. To make sure that your mail envelopes land on your patient’s hand and they open before throwing them away, name your mail by branding your clinical name in bold and different colors or with the logo if you possess it. The name of the patient should also be visible enough to catch their attention. Right after the name, mention the purpose of the letter as well.
3. Card payment
As we said, the majority of patients like to make transactions online without getting into the hassles of visiting banks or the insurance company to do the job. For this, they use credit or debit cards for online and instant payments. At first, the paper patient statement is used to provide the credit card coupons at the end of the paper statement which can be used and gain a significant discount on the whole bill. But they posed a risk to patients’ banking information.
This is why providing the option of direct and quick transactions through cards over a patient portal is considered safer. Patients can attach the information safely in the software and make the transaction every time the bill gets due. This will help providers to receive their payments on time. Make sure that your portal contains multiple payment options for patients to access.
4. Confusion about segregation
Apart from the preference of receiving patient statements online, many times patients avoid paying them as they don’t understand the distribution of the cost in bills that they have to pay. When patients are not familiar with the terms and the services described, they often get confused which prevents them from paying their bills online. The solution is to contact the patient or the person responsible to pay the bills, remind them to clear the bills, and explain the portion that they might have been confused about. Providers need to highlight every aspect to the responsible patient to avoid any delay in the payments.
5. Educate your patient
The key area that you can work with patients in order to timely bill payments is to educate them about their responsibilities against medical bills. Educating them, increasing understanding about transparency, and clearing the confusion about the payables will levitate their intentions of paying bills on time.
Mostly, the number of actual bills increased due to the HDHP. And this happens when patients lack information about their options. Make sure that your patients know about the available plans that you offer so they can continue taking your services with peace of mind, knowing what they are paying for. As many patients face monetary hardships and this becomes the reason for reluctance against paying bills. In this case, educating your patients and revealing the options you offer will put them on a better path to reconciliation.
Tips for efficiently monitoring your patient statements
1. Never delay in sending patient statements
Once you know that your payment is due, there’s no reason for putting your statements on hold. It is essential to understand that for the past 90 days, every day the amount is depreciated by a significant number that will ultimately affect your RCM.
The conclusion – Put all the paper statements in the mail as soon as they acquire a balance.
Important things to note
While it would be necessary to add some demographic information on the top of mail for any correspondence like practice name, phone numbers, and address –some other information should also be there that makes it feasible for the patient to make a payment. The information includes;
- The due date for payment
- Clearly mentioned ‘Address to Mail Payments’ and ‘Checks Payable To’
- Alternative ways to make online payments, the address to the website or a patient portal along with the accessible credentials/information.
- Credit card information section for office use
- A contact number for customer care or an office that a patient can contact for any kind of confusion.
Lastly, if you seek legal action for any term, clearly mention a disclaimer in the closing statement. The Truth in Lending Act requires providers to mention disclosure of finance charges against legal actions.
2. Not to add information that may confuse the patient
As mentioned above, patients get confused when they receive a patient statement. Instamed says, 70% of the patients get confused from a range of advertisements, clauses, charges, and distribution of charges to your patient statement.
To make it simpler, avoid including ‘balance aging’. Oftentimes, patients misinterpreted the statement.
Also, mentioning credit can also create a misunderstanding between payable amounts and credits. They may ask for a refund for the credited amount. However, this amount is unnecessary to mention in the statement as this could be a credit that they have for a special visit for a specific reason that they have gained against some points of using insurance.
Hence avoid making unnecessary changes and additions to your patient statement or make a phone call to clear the confusion.
3. The payment collection process
Your in-house staff might be working day and night for the collection of payments from patients. However, providers must know when they have to hire a third-party collection service. If workload doesn’t allow you to manage your bills and revenue effectively, hiring a third party will be a better move.
Follow these tips to hire a collection agency that is right for you;
- See if the agency is licensed and has a proper accreditation to work
- For how long has the agency been in the business
- Review responses and carbon footprints to confirm the credibility
- Believe your gut feeling when it feels demanding/easy to work with the company.
- Make sure the agency has professional affiliations like MGMA, ACA International, Chamber of Commerce, and Better Business Bureau.
- Ensure that the agency complies with the state and federal guidelines. Or any required local regulation. This may include looking for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HI-TECH).
In addition, as you team up with the third-party collection agency, not every account should be assumed to be collected. Therefore, keep these considerations in mind;
Average recovery rate – Ask for the recovery rate documentation from the agency to learn the authenticity of the agency in the market.
Skip tracing – Is the agency capable of storing data for potential patients with outstanding payments? Do they also locate the patients with no turning up?
Fee for the service – How does the agency charge – a flat fee or percentage of the profit?
Payment collection is one of the complexities providers face at their service. These tips will help identify the shortcomings and provide them with solutions to send non-confusing patient statements and receive payments timely.