The worse case scenario for any account receivable is that it becomes bad debt. Once it reaches that stage, many tactics used by the third party agencies used to resolve that account can lead to patient dissatisfaction, which in turn leads to patients looking elsewhere for future medical needs.
It’s no secret that the healthcare environment has changed since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, and it serves everyone’s—both the patients’ and the hospitals’—best interests to prevent an account from reaching 120 days past due and becoming delinquent.
This is possible by simply monitoring patient accounts effectively. In most situations, monitoring these accounts throughout their payment cycles can help keep an account in good standing and, often, create more timely payments.
There may be some situations in which the patient is experiencing the payment side for the first time in his or her life. They simply may not know what to expect or what they’re necessarily responsible for. Factor insurance into the equation, and they may have an even more difficult time figuring out what they are responsible for paying.
Constant and effective monitoring of accounts keeps the accounts receivable specialist in contact with the patient (or the party responsible for payment on the account). This opens up the opportunity to educate the patient: walk them through the payment process, answer any questions they may have about their bill, and help them understand payment deadlines. Hospital bills are not something everyone is altogether familiar with, so providing an educational voice can keep the bill in the front of their minds.
Top of Mind
After undergoing a procedure, there’s a good chance that the patient will be undergoing some kind of rehabilitation, whether that’s physical therapy or even just bed rest. When trying to acclimate back into normal life, a patient’s primary focus may not be on paying their due bills, for better or worse. They may be struggling to deal with pain, getting caught back up at work after time off, or some other situation that takes their mind away from their normal day-to-day routine.
However, constant account monitoring allows accounts receivable specialists to gently remind patients of their due payments. A gentle weekly or bi-weekly note, dependent on the payment terms, can trigger a patient to remember to pay the bill, resulting in a prompt payment.
Let’s face it: to many patients, hospital bills are overwhelming. They’re working with insurance companies that may be fighting them on what amount they’ll pay, and the entire situation gets bogged down and confusing. As they’re trying to figure out what they owe and to whom, it can make a patient shut down and retreat.
With an effective account monitoring plan in place, this situation can be avoided. By working directly with the accounts receivable specialist, patients can figure out specifically what they owe, to whom, why, and when the payments are due.
It also provides the hospital with an opportunity to catch a potential delinquent account before it reaches that point and set up a payment plan that better fits the patient’s financial situation.
Don’t let the idea of account monitoring overwhelm you. If staffing concerns prevent you from enacting a plan like this, consider an accounts receivable partner. With dedicated call centers and seamless operations designed to fit with your hospital’s policies and procedures, you can put a plan in place that will encourage more timely payments on patient accounts and boost your revenue cycle, leaving both the patient and the hospital happier. Contact HCM today to learn more.