How Patient Billing and Collections Play Into Patient Engagement

By Stacy State

With high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) continuing to be the plan-of-choice for employers and those purchasing insurance on the state exchanges, providers continue to need consumer-focused solutions and strategies.

Patients now owe more out of pocket than ever before, and the challenges of effective, sustainable patient billing and collections are real—research shows that up to 80% of self-pay balances go uncollected, and more than half of patient responsibility for insured patients ultimately ends up being written off as bad debt.


Patient billing and collections start before the patient arrives

Pre-visit processes can improve point-of-service collections—and enhance patient satisfaction before, during, and after the visit. It’s a practical strategy that is actually a form of consumerized healthcare.

Think about it: would you rather receive a courteous, straightforward pre-appointment communication about what to plan for in terms of your financial obligation? Or would you rather show up having no idea what you owe, and try to digest and sort out the details on the spot?

The answer’s pretty obvious—and the right patient estimation and eligibility verification technology makes this consumer-focused strategy a winner for improving front-office efficiencies too.

Patient engagement is intertwined with patient billing and collections

Which patients are least likely to respond to care outreach or appointment scheduling reminders? Those who either don’t understand the balance they already have or who are concerned they won’t be able to work the right payment plan to cover the care they need.

It’s pretty simple—the most effective way to collect from patients who may need (and who will benefit from) financial counseling or who need to set up a payment plan is to proactively identify those patients and engage them in an honest, compassionate conversation about their financial obligation. This is also the best way to ensure patients aren’t avoiding vital care simply because they don’t know or don’t understand what they owe.

The clearer and more consumer-focused your initial patient statements and billing communications are, the more efficient your team can be in their day-to-day work. And the stronger your patient engagement.

Make patient billing easy for your patients to act on

Your patients want to pay by cash. Or with a card. Or by electronic check. They’d really prefer to mail in their payment. Actually, can they just pay online?

No matter how your patients prefer to pay, the goal is to make it easy for them to pay—and easy for you to track and post the funds no matter what form they take. A flexible, modern patient payments solution helps you collect more efficiently and securely—at the point of care, or online 24 hours a day. Secure online payments can also be a tool for driving patient engagement—your electronic or printed statements can include important reminders or messages that are actionable online. When your patients are reviewing their statement before making their payment, they’ll have these reminders top of mind right at the time they’re getting online.


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