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 May 2011 Issue

How to Get Paid Faster!

By Karen Zupko, Consultant and Patient
 
After my recent visit to a hand specialist, actually it was the “shoulder guy,” I wanted to share some insight on how you can reap payments from patients sooner, which impacts your cash flow and your bottom line. 
 
Here’s a quick list of things your office should be doing to get paid more money, faster!
  1. Do you pre-register patients via your website? 
    You should.  This is particularly important if you are on an EMR.  With pre-registration, your staff can then verify the patient's insurance and benefits before they even enter your door.  Any issues can be addressed with the patient before you see them, so there are no surprises for either of you on what may or may not be covered.

  2. Do you use Real Time Adjudication?  
    For that torn rotator cuff of mine, the staff could have collected the $216 I owed right on the spot.  (And, yes, I have paid the bill!)  You see, I have a high deductible of some $2,000.  My visit to the shoulder specialist in April was my first trip to a doctor for the year.  My deductible isn’t close to being met.  A clearinghouse, like Real Med, allows you to punch in the visit code, the x-ray CPT and the diagnosis codes and get a “green light” from a payer like Blue Shield at the checkout desk.  The patient can be asked to pay before they leave your office.  You would be compensated immediately, not three weeks later.  You'll save the time and expense of sending out bills.

  3. Do you offer payment options on your website? 
    You guessed it—you should!  It’s not hard, complicated or expensive to offer secure bill payment for your practice website.  A call to your credit card processor should get this functionality installed and functional within a week.  Solveras is one company we know that offers this service.  

  4. Do you bill as soon as insurance pays? 
    If Aetna pays on the 3rd, why would you wait until the end of the month to bill the patient for remaining expenses?  And then wait at least another two weeks for the patient to pay?  Look at the billing delays in your office—it’s worth improving.

  5. What if the patient can’t pay the whole bill? 
    Of course, we know this happens—they just don’t have the money.  Well, then do what other types of companies do—they offer recurring payment options.  The patient signs a release and you charge their credit card or debit their checking account monthly for a specified amount until the bill is paid.  Again, your credit card processor can offer you this service.
 
Patient balances are increasing dramatically and rapidly.  Insurance is pushing off more responsibility to the insureds. The fastest growing portion of patient debt, according to multiple hospital associations, is not from uninsured patients, but rather INSURED patients.  Be smart.  Don’t let your bill languish and age through the AR report.  Collect all that you can early in the process, when patient gratitude is typically the highest.
 
Karen A. Zupko
KarenZupko & Associates
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