If you’re frustrated with medical billing and patient collections, the key might involve going digital.
The fact is, in this technology-driven age ruled by smartphones and tablets, relying on paper billing and collections seems downright antiquated. Yet, according to a 2017 survey, some 77 percent of health care providers still utilize paper-based systems, while nearly all practices use paper to some extent. Ironically, patients are the ones who have embraced electronic billing; more than half prefer digital payments to paper. Most tellingly, patients admit they are more likely to pay their medical bills in a timely manner when there is an online option available.
Embracing Electronic Payments
Digital technology has streamlined the health care process considerably in many key areas. It allows patients to schedule appointments online, check in automatically, access their medical records, submit prescription refill requests, and update their information via a patient portal. But the biggest difference it has made on the provider side of business is through patient collections.
If you’ve ever tried to collect money up front from your patients, you can probably attest to the inherent difficulties this presents. Many times, patients are unprepared to pay when they show up for their appointment, promising to pay next time, but when your patient population is younger, “next time” might be a year away still – or never. Millennials, in particular, are notorious for skipping their annual appointments. And sending paper statements in an attempt to collect is fruitless when you’re dealing with a generation raised entirely in the digital era.
This helps explain why electronic billing options have been proven to have a direct impact on a practice’s bottom line. Digital billing sends the information to the one place sure to receive attention – into the hands of the patient through their electronic device, be it a text on their phone or an email with a link for an electronic payment option. Patients can even opt to sign up for an electronic payment plan in order to ease their financial burden and spread payments out over a period of time. If the patient has questions about his or her bill, they can connect with a customer service representative to go over the charges.
Digital billing makes sense for a number of reasons, the two most important being convenience and increased revenue. Patients appreciate the ease of paying their bills with the push of a button, data that is backed up through patient satisfaction surveys; and providers no longer have to deal with making collections calls and uncertainty over whether they’ll ever be paid for a particular service.
If your practice hasn’t yet embraced digital billing and collections, it’s time to seriously consider streamlining your processes and adopting this strategy.