5 Ways to Accelerate 1st Cycle Payments from Patients

Apex Revenue Technologies

Patient billing is no easy task. Healthcare billing charges require a much higher level of explanation than any other type of consumer billing. It can be confusing for patients when they go in for one procedure and receive multiple bills for one encounter.  Plus – health insurance coverage adds another level of complexity to the patient billing process.  Basically, patients don’t want to overpay, they want to make sure that their insurance provider has paid the correct amount and that they are not being overcharged by the healthcare provider. With this, it is no surprise that over 40% of patients today wait until the second or third statement to make a payment.

So how can providers maximize the amount of payments they collect in the first billing cycle? We’ve outlined 5 simple ways providers can increase the amount of patient payments collected in, or even before, the first billing cycle:

AutoPay Payments
AutoPay is the latest trend in patient billing – and a new capability offered by Apex! AutoPay pre-authorizes automated payments for future statement balances that are less than or equal to an agreed upon dollar amount. Patients that have been identified with the means to pay and are undergoing healthcare services that are more predictable in nature such as: dental, dermatology, physical therapy, etc. are ideal candidates for this type of automated payment functionality. Click here to learn more.

Point-of-Service Payments
Most providers use a point-of-service payment device for collecting co-payments. Why not take this a step further and take payments for current balances? By giving patient access staff visibility into current patient billing data, along with messaging scripts, providers can offer patients the convenience of paying their balance while they are already at the healthcare facility and eliminate the extra time it would require to pay later.

Cost Estimating
It is common for hospital bills to be more expensive compared to a routine doctor visit, which may require that patients prepare their finances in advance. A 2016 InfoTrends study found that nearly 70% of patients would be more likely to pay their healthcare bill within the first 30 days, if they received a cost estimate on the day of their service.

Payment Plans
According to the same InfoTrends report, about 50% of surveyed patients indicated that the reason they missed a healthcare payment was because they simply did not have enough money. Giving patients the option of a flexible payment plan will decrease the number of missed payments due to financial constraints. In these instances, payment plans help providers collect a portion of the amount due on time – versus nothing at all. It also prevents losing more of the balance to a 3rd party collections group.

Prompt Pay Discounts
When patients prioritize their household bills, they give healthcare bills lower priority - since in many states a late payment does not have a direct impact on their credit score and they do not incur a penalty fee. As many as 34% of patients who have missed a payment have cited that they would be more likely to pay on time if they received a prompt pay discount (InfoTrends 2016).

Not only do the payment options listed above provide significant benefits to the revenue cycle, they provide added convenience for patients. The key to maximizing the success of these payment tools is understanding your patients and developing a communication strategy that promotes the most appropriate payment option(s) to your patients based on their unique financial situation. For more information on how to better understand your patients click here.


References: Bilko, A., & Swain, M. (2016). 2016 Patient Financial Experience Report (Rep.). InfoTrends