A medical clinic is a business like any other: it has employees, it has expenses, and therefore it needs to have cash flow. Good financial management involves the process of charging for services rendered. Unfortunately, this process sometimes doesn’t go as smoothly as it should.
Handling payment issues in a clinic can be awkward. You are dealing with a lot of different patients, insurance companies, and vendors. But tolerating overdue bills, or letting them pile up, can hurt the clinic’s financial situation and even threaten the future of your business. Fortunately, there are many ways to handle payment issues faster, more securely, and more responsibly.
1. Stay Compassionate
It can be easy to lose compassion when it comes to money. Dealing with many patients can also get a little frustrating. But even the best patients can delay payment because they are going through a bad patch. You need to show some empathy as opposed to treating these patients harshly.
It’s not an easy time for them as medical costs can be really high. They may also be impacted by a serious health treatment—their own or the treatment of a family member.
There are several ways to handle an overdue bill, including:
- Try to find out who is handling the bill and deal only with the person responsible, avoiding confusion or misunderstandings.
- When presenting the bill, be clear about the payment terms.
- If 30 days later the patient still hasn’t paid, get in touch and ask if there’s anything you can do to speed up the process.
- Monitor the situation closely, but without being pushy or threatening.
- If necessary, suggest a payment plan that meets the patient’s needs.
2. Document Everything
Describing the bill for healthcare services can be quite complex considering the procedures and expenses involved. This increases the need to document medical records in a clear and detailed way. When it’s done right, patients will look at the bill and see not only a large number. They will also understand that they received quality care; therefore, the value of the services provided is fair.
You need to document everything in the best way to avoid errors arising on your end or the patient’s end. With everything broken down, it’s easier to find any mistake or billing error. A detailed account can also mitigate malpractice suits by demonstrating that everything was done to conduct a patient’s treatment.
3. Utilize Software
Considering the need to document everything in detail, healthcare providers should adopt more accurate and efficient billing processes. Revenue cycle management (RCM) software can help you streamline billing in a more organized way.
One option on the market, NextGen RCM software, makes collecting and recording patient information more practical. It also has features such as requesting claim payment from insurers, automated billing, and sending reminders to patients via email or text messages. A software like this can help you eliminate billing mistakes and facilitate financial conversations.
4. Lay it all Out
Patients are paying more for healthcare. Over a recent 10-year period (between 2006 and 2016), employed Americans paid 8.2 percent more than their salary increase for employer-sponsored insurance. To avoid any further complications, all information about billing and treatment costs should be presented and discussed with the patient upfront.
When dealing with patients with a history of not paying, be sure to inform them of the costs even before the appointment or procedure, paying special attention to interest rates on late payment fees. Clearly explain the payment terms and make sure you don’t leave room for misinterpretations.
5. A Fair Bill Will Never Be Questioned
A 2019 Federal Reserve survey revealed that 37 percent of Americans cannot pay a $400 emergency medical bill in cash simply because they don’t have this reserve. In this world, dealing with payments for health care can be really challenging, even a bit stressful. On your end, try to make the process as clear and streamlined as possible by issuing bills so detailed that they are impossible to question.
In short, maintain proper etiquette when handling payment issues. But be incisive with debtors rather than waiting indefinitely. Keep a payment schedule to keep track of overdue bills, and don’t be shy about chasing overdue debt. Sometimes a simple conversation can solve everything without any major problems.