It seems pretty straightforward: you provide a service, you bill insurance, insurance pays, a patient pays the balance. In a perfect world, that process would be flawless and you’d never have to consider terms like “revenue cycle management” or “closed-loop revenue cycle,” but as you know, the truth is that when it comes to billing and payments for healthcare services, it’s rarely a pleasant and easy task.
Patients will always need medical services, demand is not your issue. But, with changing healthcare laws, a recovering economy, and patients who truly don’t understand the process, it’s a difficult path for billing departments to complete a financial cycle.
You know the importance of receiving final payments from patients and insurance companies, but do you know the top three things that you can be doing right now to move your organization toward a more productive and profitable billing structure?
Understand the Revenue Cycle Ecosystem
This may sound silly but bear with us. Do you truly know which staff members have the greatest ability to affect payments in your organization?
From the moment a patient comes in contact with your organization until the time they eventually have to return, your staff has the opportunity to educate and delight or ostracize them. Making sure you have a cheerful voice answering the phone is common, but what about every other member of your staff? Customer service is one of the most important factors in patient satisfaction.
Furthermore, your billing department is most likely the ones to hear the most feedback from patients. Their frustrations can easily be delivered to the person calling to check up on a balance. They are some of the strongest members of your customer care team; ensure that they know this and are trained to respond.
Create a Collaborative Environment
If the billing department is most likely to hear the feedback from your patients, they should have a direct line to either the office manager, patient satisfaction team or be represented on a committee to increase the customer service of your organization. They have insights to how the patient feels after the service and why the are hesitating to send payment.
It could simply be a matter of inability to pay, but for the times where a disgruntled patient simply refuses to send payment, there are lessons to be learned.
Give each of your staff members the ownership of revenue. Train them to understand and accept that each of them places a role in the financial health of your organization and its everyone’s responsibility to provide excellent care.
Increase Patient Finance Education
If your staff is a well-oiled machine and they are communicating between departments and always striving for the best service possible, it’s time to review the education provided to your patients. With new laws and plans, health insurance is confusing and sometimes expensive.
Taking the time prior to services rendered to outline your patient’s financial obligations and to educate them on what to expect in the coming days, weeks, or months will give them the ability to be mentally prepared for their responsibility. Starting this relationship off on a good foot opens the door for patients to be more willing to call and make payment plans or work toward other payment solutions.
Interested in more ways that you can close the revenue cycle for your health care organization? Download our free tipsheet today!