October 15, 2014
Whether it’s the complexities in payment methodology, increase focus on outcomes, or the attention on health information technology, there is another common challenge among healthcare organizations; i.e., the growth in patient responsible balances. With the uninsured, underinsured, and high deductible health plans, this is a growing issue in the community health center world. One tool CHCs can use to combat the growing balances in patient accounts is to offer patient friendly payment plans. By doing this you can increase satisfaction for your patients and enhance efficiencies in your billing department. When you build an excellent payment plan you need to provide world class customer service, have several options for your patients, and thoroughly train your staff on the payment plan process.
World Class Customer Service
When developing your payment plan, makes sure it is patient-centered. Develop your process around the patient flow process in your health center. Likewise, develop templates that will promptly and clearly present your patients with an easy to read document outlining the conditions of the program.
With the diverse patient populations in community health centers it is unlikely you will find one plan that will work for all patients. Develop a tiered system to afford your patients several options in managing their debt. Remember, there is a delicate balance with this recommendation. Specifically, don’t make the plans so complicated your front desk staff cannot smoothly carry out the process.
Top Tier Training
Empower your staff with complete policies and procedures. Don’t just give your team a manual, have live trainings. Training should include review of
- Payment plan templates,
- Payment guidelines
- Written notices for patients if they default
- Process for turning accounts over to collections (if applicable)
And of course, make sure you abide by all federal and state laws regarding fair debt collection practices. By pursuing the above recommendations, you should experience improved collections of patient balances and greater patient satisfaction.