5 Strategies to Help Providers Collect Outstanding Balances

5 Strategies to Help Providers Collect Outstanding Balances

Among the largest problems for medical practices are bad debt and collections. At the same time, high-deductible insurance plans are on the rise, so more of what you’re collecting is coming directly from patients. A McKinsey study found that 74% of patients who are insured are willing and able to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses of up to $1,000 per year. So why aren’t they paying? 

Confusion about bills, insurance misunderstandings and a lack of cash on hand are all potential reasons — but the key to collecting more outstanding balances is to implement tools that create more transparency and automation. Consider these five planning strategies to help you collect more outstanding balances and improve cash flow. 

  1. Let people pay using their preferred technologies 

Most of your patients have a smartphone within reach, and a large number of them are willing to use it to make payments. Of millennials, for example, 94% are likely to use mobile payment options, and 65% of baby boomers are likely to take advantage of this form of payment. 

Simplified payment tools allow you to grow your practice and increase revenue by using the tools that your patients already know and enjoy. For example, you can send an email or text message about paying a balance as they stand in your lobby. If the patient can’t pay the entire balance, he/she has the option to set up a personalized payment plan. 

Many of your patients are already accustomed to “card on file” technology. They are using it for takeout food services, grocery services and online retailers — and they are willing to pay medical practices with this method as well. This approach allows you to automatically collect payments in accordance with your patient agreement after insurance payments are made. The long lag time associated with mailing paper statements and receiving checks is eliminated with this payment option. 

  1. Empower patients with personalized financing options 

Many Americans struggle to pay their medical bills. In fact, about a third of Americans have some form of medical debt, and half of these people default on their obligations. At the same time, almost half of Americans are skipping doctor visits due to worries about cost. Unsure of how they will afford care, they put off medical care indefinitely or until the need becomes urgent. 

Patient financing allows medical practices to meet patients where they’re at financially. If they can’t pay the entire balance of the bill, there are financing options available. Payments can be split into smaller sums and spread out over a longer period of time. Flexible and personalized financing allows you to open your doors to more people who need care but worry they can’t afford it. 

When looking at flexible financing options, consider technology that simplifies the process for patients and improves collection rates. For example, when payment options are sent via text message or email, ensure that the patients can set up a payment plan directly from the payment screen. 

A program that enables you to sell receivables and get paid upfront is also helpful for cash flow. This option allows you to get rid of late-payment and bad-debt risk, and ultimately provide healthcare staff support by freeing up valuable staff resources previously spent on collections.

  1. Work to create greater patient engagement 

Patient engagement is more critical than ever as patients transform into “customers.” With a rising number of high-deductible insurance plans, people are responsible for a larger portion of their medical bills, and as a result, they expect more. However, clinicians report that only 34% of their patients are “highly engaged.” 

The right technology solutions and patient engagement strategies help close the patient engagement gap and allow you to connect in greater depth. For example, let’s say that a patient visits your practice and doesn’t pay at the time of service. In the past, you may have sent a paper billing statement and waited for payment. Let’s say the patient is having financial difficulties, and although they want to pay the bill, they simply can’t afford to pay the balance and so ignores it. 

In contrast, if you have a patient engagement system, you can send out strategically timed emails throughout the patient journey. For example, you could send the patient a reminder via email when a payment is overdue and offer flexible payment options that can be set up online or through a mobile device. The patient can set up an easy, personalized payment plan, and you can speed up collection efforts and start getting paid faster. If you have the ability to sell receivables, you can get the entire amount upfront. 

  1. Offer greater transparency with accurate estimates 

Many patients are confused about medical bills, and this leads to delays in getting paid. After visiting your office, the patient may receive the bill and have questions. This results in payment delays and can negatively affect cash flow. But what are some of the other reasons people aren’t paying their bills? A few common reasons include: 

The right patient estimation tool allows you to create more transparency and give people an accurate, upfront estimate. This estimate provides greater visibility so the patient is not surprised when receiving a bill. 

Patients who have difficulty paying their bills can talk about flexible payment plans upfront and get that payment plan set up immediately. As a result, you get balances paid faster and get rid of unnecessary late payments and bad debt. 

  1. Take advantage of technology

Improving collection efforts doesn’t require a single tool but rather the whole toolbox to ensure that patient engagement is achieved and your bottom line is improved. An advanced solution helps you improve collections at every critical point in the patient’s journey. 

For example, you can speak with the patient prior to the visit, provide him/her with an estimate and discuss payment options. When the patient visits the office, you can confirm those details and allow the patient to pay upfront from their mobile device. If that patient can’t pay upfront, you can highlight payment options, and the patient can set up those options directly on his/her mobile device. 

Patients who haven’t paid their bills after leaving the office are addressed by a carefully timed communication strategy. For example, once the bill is overdue, you can send a helpful reminder via email reminding patients of payment options and allowing them to set up a program directly online or from their mobile device. The key is to set up simplified payment options at every step in the journey so you can capture more payments, remove confusion and enhance the customer experience. 

Moving into the future with better cash flow

Practices want to help patients get access to the care they need most, but at the same time, you need to run a profitable business. Using the right technology empowers you to meet patients where they are. 

If they prefer mobile bills, you can send them mobile bills. If they need a payment plan, you can send them the tools they need to set that up. As a result, the patient will have a more seamless experience and be more likely to return to your practice and to refer family and friends. The result is a practice that thrives in the future with faster payment cycles and a growing patient base.  

Chiropractic Financing: A Win-Win For Providers and Patients

Many patients believe that a single visit to the chiropractor will “cure” their pain; however, chiropractors know that a comprehensive treatment takes multiple visits. Depending on the insurance provider, these ongoing visits might not be covered. As a result, the patient is left figuring out how to pay for care. 

This situation comes at a time when out-of-pocket health care expenses are on the rise. People are paying higher insurance premiums, higher deductibles, and larger co-payments than in the past. Americans spend twice as much for health care today compared with what they spent in the 1980s. The average American spends $5,000 annually on health care now, compared with only $2,500 per year in 1984, when adjusted for inflation. 

Patients without chiropractic insurance coverage might be hesitant to step through your door, instead opting for treatments such as invasive surgery or prescription medications that only mask pain. Reaching patients with quality chiropractic care, however, is important, with three in four chiropractic patients (77%) describing their care as “very effective.” So how can you open your doors to more people? Chiropractic financing is a powerful option that empowers patients with access to personalized payment options and helps your business grow. 

Why Offer Financing?

Many chiropractic practices have financial procedures in place to minimize risk of bad debt and collection issues. For example, some require upfront payments for all services. The average cost for a chiropractic visit is about $100 to $150 per session, which can feel overwhelming to some patients. And even if a patient does have insurance, that insurance might not pay for the full course of treatment required to remedy the patient’s problem. 

For example, Medicare currently reimburses for only a single chiropractic service, which is manual manipulation of spine-related conditions. It won’t pay for the “evaluation and management” services required to establish a treatment plan for patients. 

Patient financing helps patients manage these expenses and fit them into a budget where they send monthly payments. Chiropractic practices can help patients get access to the care they need without waiting to get paid. As a result, the payment cycle is increased, risk for bad debt is decreased, and you can improve the patient experience. 

Benefits to Your Practice 

Patient financing allows you to better connect with patients by providing them with the funding solutions required to get access to care. They can quickly set up payment options, select a personalized payment plan, and get instant access to care. Benefits to your practice include: 

Opening your doors to more patients. Chiropractic financing allows you to open your chiropractic practice to more patients who need care but don’t think they can afford it. Inclusive payment options allow you to extend financing to 100% of patients, regardless of their credit score.

Getting rid of bad debt. With out-of-pocket expenses on the rise, bad debt has steadily increased. Nearly 80% of health care entities reported bad debt growth between 6% to 20% since 2008. During a time when $5,000 and $10,000 deductibles are more common, paying medical bills is getting harder for patients. This type of financing allows you to address payment concerns upfront, offer financing, and decrease bad debt. 

Getting paid faster. Patients who can pay balances and set up financing on mobile devices are happier and have a better experience. Mobile payments also get you paid faster and speed up the revenue cycle. 

Increasing cash flow. Patient financing allows you the option of getting paid upfront on receivables, which can increase cash flow. As a result, you can spend less time on collection efforts and more efficiently grow your practice. 

Patient financing allows you to increase your practice’s financial health and serve more patients who need financial aid. In addition to helping your business thrive, it assists patients with getting access to the care they need most without the worry of how to pay. 

Benefits to Patients

Many patients want access to chiropractic care but aren’t sure how they will afford the treatment they need to get better or may be worried about their credit score. Chiropractic care financing bridges that gap and provides a variety of benefits to patients, including: 

Fewer worries about “cutting treatments short.” Insurance plans might have a pre-set number of allowed chiropractic visits annually. If patients need more visits, they may be tempted to cut their treatment plan short, which could adversely affect their health. Chiropractic financing allows patients to continue with treatment because they know what each of their monthly payments will be. 

Easily fit payments into the patient’s budget. A one-size-fits-all type of financing plan doesn’t work because every patient is different. Paying $50 a month might be doable for one patient but pose a financial hardship for another. Financing plans that are customizable are a benefit for patients and empower them to pick a payment that fits their budget. 

Access to more treatment options. Patients might limit their treatment options based on what they can afford. Chiropractic patient financing allows them to consider treatment options that felt “too expensive” in the past. As a result, patients can put their health first, without the worry of managing costs. 

Increased patient satisfaction. Personalized payment options allow patients to feel more known and understood by your practice. As a result, patients will be more loyal to your practice and come back for additional treatments. 

Fuel referrals and growth. Happier customers refer more of their family and friends to your business. Customers acquired through referrals have a 37% higher retention rate and an 18% overall lower churn rate compared with customers acquired by other means. 

What to Look For in a Financing Program

Patient financing is a powerful tool that promotes practice growth, but not all programs are created equal. Consider the following details when selecting a program for your practice: 

Upfront payment on receivables. The option of getting paid upfront on receivables can help smooth out cash flow challenges. Some financing partners will allow you to sell patient receivables and get paid right away. 

100% approval rates. Some patients have credit challenges and need financing options that won’t exclude them because of credit history. A financing program that enables you to accept 100% of patients allows you to offer your services to more patients. 

Customizable branded portal. Patients want the ability to pay their bills online. About 56% of all bills are paid through a biller, bank, or third-party website. Tools such as mobile bill pay options and customizable branded payment portals allow your patients to pay their financing plans 24/7. 

Ongoing communication tools. Some patients will opt into financing programs at the time of services, but others won’t make that decision right away. Keep the lines of communication open with automated tools that promote financing options and provide relevant information at critical points in the patient journey. 

Educating Your Patients About Financing Options

Once you have the right financing program in place, it’s important to educate your patients about that service in order to make a greater impact. Consider the following: 

Before the visit. Place details about financing options where customers are most likely to see them, such as on your website. During the first phone call, when a staff member is collecting insurance details and other information from the patient, make it standard to talk about flexible patient financing options. 

During the visit. Use technology that provides patients with accurate, real-time details about their exact cost of care. At this time, you can tell patients about personalized financing options that are available and provide the required details for setup. 

After the visit. Patients who don’t initially opt in to financing might need it later. For example, a patient might change their insurance provider and no longer have chiropractic coverage. Provide patients with ongoing, helpful details through text message, email, and other communication channels to improve the experience. 

Moving Forward With Greater Success 

Chiropractic care is an important treatment for many people, but some are skipping sessions because of worries about cost. Providing the resources that people need most allows you to serve more people who will benefit from care. 

Selecting a program that is personalized, flexible, and supported by technology that enhances the experience allows you to create more meaningful and lasting patient relationships. These happier patients will organically spread the word about your practice, and you will experience greater cash flow and growth in the future. 

 

Communicating Your Patient’s Healthcare Billing Responsibility

The rise of high-deductible insurance plans and more expensive co-payments are leaving patients responsible for a larger amount of their healthcare bills. As a result, medical practices are experiencing an increase in billing and collections directly from patient collections. The challenge is that many of these patients struggle to pay their portion of medical expenses. 

About one-fourth of U.S. adults report that they or a household member have had a challenge with paying medical bills in the past year. About half of this group (12 percent) say the bills had a major impact on their family. 

Payment hardship is difficult for patients and medical practices. When patients struggle to pay their bills, a medical practice’s receivables grow and cash flow is negatively affected. Large medical balances can also adversely affect the patient relationship, especially if patients don’t fully understand their financial responsibility. Implementing new strategies around communication and providing resources to pay for patient care, such as payment plans, can help reduce patient frustration and improve the healthcare experience. 

Creating a System With Maximum Transparency 

Many patients leave after a doctor’s visit without fully understanding their financial responsibility. For example, perhaps the patient has a $20 co-payment, but they need a procedure that requires them to pay beyond that co-payment, sharing a portion of the cost. When a bill arrives for the outstanding balance, the patient is confused, frustrated and potentially angry. 

Feelings like this are common, especially with the rise of high-deductible insurance plans that require patients to pay large amounts of money before the insurance coverage pays for costs. This potential confusion may result in unpaid bills, upset patients, and slowed receivables. In some cases, people simply don’t have the funds to pay the bills and aren’t sure how to proceed.

Building transparency around medical billing improves patient contact and empowers patients to figure out how they will pay for service upfront. It also eliminates any bad feelings about feeling “blindsided” by an unexpected medical bill. Automated patient estimation at your practice can help you to build this transparency with patients. 

Communicating Costs Early and Frequently 

Building more transparency in medical costs requires rethinking communication. In the past, you might have collected a co-payment and then dealt with any additional costs after the visit. Once the insurance carrier paid their portion of a bill, the balance was billed to the patient. A medical billing process that includes greater transparency involves talking with patients during the visit about the total cost of their visit and their responsibility for payment. 

Most practices know that building greater transparency into the patient experience is important, yet few have successfully done so. For example, one study found that nine in ten healthcare providers say that helping patients understand what is covered by their insurance versus what are out-of-pocket expenses is very important. Estimation software can help you calculate your patient’s out-of-pocket expense accurately.

In addition, 96 percent of practices, which make up nearly all medical providers, said they believe that it’s important to provide patients with an easy way to understand and pay for bills. Yet the reality is that only 45 percent of patients report that providers don’t help them understand what they owe out of pocket versus what their insurance provider will pay. 

Implementing tools that help patients understand costs during their visit helps to open lines of communication early. For example, if a patient expects to pay $20 for their visit but has an unexpected procedure and now owes $150, you can answer any billing questions at that time. You can explain, for example, that the patient hasn’t met their insurance deductible and therefore must foot the bill for the procedure. In the past, the patient would have received the bill and needed to call and ask questions, which could have significantly slowed down the payment process. 

Opening the lines of communication early also provides an opportunity to discuss patient billing options. If a patient can’t pay the total amount due upfront, this is the perfect time to present flexible payment options to improve their experience and make paying the bill less stressful. 

Offering Simplified Payment Options 

Many patients can’t pay their entire balance upfront and need resources and payment options. One survey found that nearly all patients (94 percent) said they want doctors to offer an easy way to understand and pay medical bills. A medical practice can leverage innovative technology options to not only communicate the amount owed but also provide details about flexible patient billing options. When doing this, remember that not all patient estimation software is created the same, so research your options prior.

Working with the right technology partner is key because not all partners are created equal.

Communicating the amount owed early, and upfront, and then following up with easy-to-use and flexible payment options can quickly increase cash flow to your business. One study found that 74 percent of patients who reported a satisfactory billing experience paid their healthcare bills in full. In contrast, only 33 percent of those dissatisfied with healthcare billing paid their bills. Understanding the patient’s needs, preferences and expectations for experience can help create stronger and more meaningful relationships. Select a partner that offers 100% approval rates on financing, which allows all patients access to the financing options that they need. 

Providing a Variety of Payment Options and Methods 

Whether a patient needs a payment plan or takes care of their billing statement in full, it’s important to give them plenty of payment options. Expectations around payments have quickly changed in the past decade. The evolution of faster and more convenient payment options, such as mobile payment, are growing in popularity. Estimates show that roughly 36 percent of smartphone users make a mobile payment at least once every six months. People expect the same easy experiences that they receive with other service providers, such as retailers, at their physician’s office. 

Mobile payment options, for example, allow patients to quickly pay from their smartphone. The practice can send a text or email message that allows patients to decide whether to pay on-the-spot or enroll in a facility-approved payment plan. Mobile billing software such as this provides a convenient option for patients to pay their medical expenses. 

Additionally, having convenient point-of-sale options also helps to improve the patient experience and adds to a seamless communication experience. Card-on-file technology, for example, allows you to safely store and use your patient’s payment account to pay for balances after insurance payments have been received. 

Communicating Using The Tools That Patients Prefer 

The ways that patients communicate have drastically changed over the past couple of decades. Snail mail had been replaced by email and text messages, and phone calls have been replaced by text reminders. Patients expect you to communicate in the ways that are most convenient to their lifestyle. And when practices successfully do this, especially regarding payment details, they can increase response rates and cash flow. For example, one study found that only 10 percent of patients prefer to receive communication through patient portals. In contrast, twice as many (19.6 percent) prefer to receive information via secure text when in-person and phone calls are not an option. 

Most patients don’t answer calls from numbers they don’t know, with 64 percent of adults admitting they ignore numbers they don’t recognize. In the past, leaving a voicemail was an efficient way to get a patient to call back, but today’s reality is that 30 percent of voicemails go unheard for at least three days, and 20 percent of Americans don’t ever check their voicemail. When considering communicating about payment details, a text message is fast, effective and in many cases preferred way to communicate with patients. Consider the following

Communicating your patients’ healthcare billing responsibilities using the technologies that your patients already know and love is an effective way to get that information in their hands and answer any billing questions early in the revenue cycle. 

Leaving room for customization is also important when considering communication strategies. For example, some patients might still prefer a paper bill, while others strictly want electronic options. Giving patients the flexibility to receive account details in the way that they prefer, whether it be a text message, paper bill or phone call, can help to further customize the patient experience. 

The Future For Practices

Practices are savvy to the fact that more of their revenue is coming from the pocketbooks of patients. As a result, new strategies are needed to effectively communicate what patients owe and how they can easily pay practices through tools such as customized payment plans. The missing link for many practices is that communication the medical billing process needs to happen much earlier than in the past. 

Practices that successfully bridge the communication gap regarding patient financial responsibility, however, have an opportunity to build stronger patient bonds, be a resource to help them pay for care, and build a stronger business in the future. 

Calculating Your Patient’s Out-of-Pocket Expenses Accurately

Patients are increasingly worried about healthcare costs. Receiving a large healthcare bill is one of the largest worries expressed by Americans. One survey found that two-thirds of people are either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about their ability to afford unexpected medical bills for themselves or family members. Over half of respondents (53%) reported they are concerned about the affordability of health insurance deductibles. 

Adding to this challenge is the fact that over half of people (57%) have received an unexpected healthcare bill they thought would be covered by health insurance. The most common cases of these “surprise” bills were physician services and lab tests. Practices can help ease patient stress by helping them understand out-of-pocket expenses with greater accuracy. A patient who understands their portion of the cost and patient responsibility upfront can better anticipate those expenses and create a plan to pay them., which in turn increases patient collections

Breaking Down Out-of-Pocket Expenses 

Helping patients understand out-of-pocket expenses starts with having that conversation sooner than in the past. Medical practices can start having that discussion at the time of service. But to make this possible, practices need the right elements to estimate exactly what a patient will owe out of pocket for their care. Patient expenses are typically influenced by the following. 

Eligibility information. The most basic element of determining what a patient will pay is in the patient’s insurance plan’s eligibility details. A practice can typically submit details to the insurance provider to determine whether the person has coverage. This process also provides critical information that affects out-of-pocket expenses such as copayments, coinsurance, and any remaining deductible amounts. 

Current health plan fee schedule. A current health plan fee schedule lets you know how much the insurance company will pay for various services. If you’re attempting to use management software to automate patient estimation at your practice, ensure that you have the most recent fee scheduled loaded into the software in order to deliver accurate details to the patient. 

Copayments. Many health insurance plans have copayments, which are due at the time of service. Having current copayment details will ensure that you charge the patient the right amount during the visit and won’t need to bill them any additional balances after the service. 

Coinsurance. The coinsurance is based on the coverage that the insurance provider offers. For example, insurance coverage might cover 90% of office visits. In this case, the patient is responsible for 10% of the visit. However, it’s important to remember that coinsurance calculations are based on the contracted fee schedule, and not the retail rate of the practice. For example, let’s say the health insurer’s contracted rate is $150 and the coinsurance is 10%. In this case, the patient would owe $15. 

Health insurance deductible. The health insurance deductible is a large reason why patients get unexpected bills. For example, let’s say that the insurance plan covers 90% of office visits after the patient meets the plan’s deductible. However, the patient hasn’t met the deductible, so the patient owes the entire visit amount. Take the example of a health insurer contracted at a rate of $74. The patient has a $150 deductible amount left to meet. In this case, the patient would owe the entire balance of $74. Alternatively, let’s say that the patient has a remaining deductible of $25 and the cost of the visit is $74. The patient would pay the $25 and the insurance company would pay the rest of the medical expenses. 

Most practices understand the various elements that go into what the patient owes for care. But getting a more accurate picture of each of these elements and calculating them with greater accuracy are what allow for more accurate out-of-pocket expense calculations. 

Understanding Calculation Options 

Practices have a wide variety of tools that help determine out-of-pocket expenses at the time of services—everything from automated systems to traditional pen-and-paper calculations. Understanding all available options can help with selecting the right one for your practice and giving your patients more accurate payment details. 

Manual calculation. Manually calculating copays, coinsurance, and deductibles was common in the past. The downfall of manual calculations, however, is the risk for human error, so it’s worth considering more advanced options for greater accuracy. 

Health plan estimation tools. Many health plan providers offer estimation tools on their websites that allow practices to quickly add up a patient’s out-of-pocket expenses. Service details are entered, and the tool provides an estimate of potential coverage and out-of-pocket expenses to the patient. Some tools even provide the ability to personalize details specific to the patient account, including a better understanding of real-time remaining deductibles. When using these tools, it’s important to know that they aren’t guaranteed, and patients should be made to understand it’s an estimate that could change.

The Benefits of Estimation Software 

Estimation software is a tool that allows you to communicate your patient’s healthcare billing responsibility so they quickly understand their financial responsibility at or before the point of service. For example, this tool might model provider contracts with payers, load details about charge information and then input personalized patient benefit information to determine the total amount owed. The tool is helpful in providing the following: 

Estimation software is a helpful tool to connect with patients about out-of-pocket expenses, but also to reduce receivables and bad debt. Starting the conversation early using this type of tool opens an opportunity to discuss resources if a patient can’t afford the expenses. Because Not all patient estimation software is created the same, it is important to research your options. 

A comprehensive solution might also provide a payment plan, which gives people flexible options to spread payments out over a longer period and make medical care bills more affordable. 

When Patients Cannot Pay For Services Upfront 

Telling patients an accurate figure regarding out-of-pocket expenses allows them to quickly see what they owe at the time of service. But for some patients, this amount will feel overwhelming. For example, perhaps they have an unmet deductible and therefore must pay the entire medical bill out of pocket. If patients can’t afford to pay the balance, they might need payment options. 

Working with a partner that provides patient financing allows people the flexibility to customize payment options to fit their needs. Look for a partner that has a 100% patient approval rate, which means that all patients can get access to financing options. 

Partners that provide payment plans may also offer receivables funding, which doesn’t require your practice to wait to get paid. Instead, upfront payments can be made, even if your patients are still paying off the balance of what they owe. A program that accepts a wide variety of payments, including mobile pay, is also important because it streamlines the patient experience and allows people to pay using the tools they already know and enjoy. 

Moving Into The Future 

Patient expectations are fast changing. They now expect the same convenience and ease they receive in other sectors of business, such as retail, in the healthcare environment. Building more transparency into your processes by providing accurate and easy upfront estimates about medical care costs allows people to better understand their financial responsibility and create a plan to pay those balances. As a result, you can build stronger relationships with patients and improve the success of your medical practice in the future. 

What is The Best Patient Financing Option For Your Practice?

Most patients carefully plan out their monthly budgets. When an unexpected medical bill arrives, they feel stressed out and overwhelmed. How will they afford the bill? Estimates suggest that a quarter of baby boomers, Gen Xers, as well as nearly a third of millennials, avoid seeking care due to costs. This problem is amplified by the rise in high-deductible insurance plans, which means patients are paying a larger portion of their bills. Practices understand that patients need help in this area — but what is the best way forward? 

Offering patient financing is one way that practices can address this need. There are two main types of patient financing: an internal program or a third-party solution. Practices that create internal patient financing options typically provide patients with the ability to make payments and don’t usually charge interest on the balance. This option puts a large strain on the practice both in terms of the financial burden as well as the staff time required to monitor the plan and follow up on late or declined payments.

The other option is third-party financing, which allows practices to offload the risk to a trusted partner while still providing patients with flexible financing. Understanding the benefits of patient financing, evolving patient expectations and what to look for in a solution can help you make the right decision for your practice.

Patient Financing: What You Need to Know 

Patient financing is an attractive option for patients and it eliminates a major hurdle that stands between patients getting the care they need, which is how to pay for it. A third-party partner can deliver customized payment programs that are tailored to a patient’s needs, ability to pay and any relevant risk factors. 

Not all patients qualify for traditional third-party financing, which is why it’s important to work with a partner that provides 100% approval rates. This allows all patients, regardless of their credit score or credit history, access to payment options that make care affordable. 

Patient financing platforms allow patients to quickly view their payment plan once it is set up, make extra payments and monitor their progress on paying down balances over time. 

Patient Financing Benefits

When reviewing payment plan options, it’s important to consider the benefits to your patients. One benefit is that patients are empowered to spread costs out over time, fit those costs into their monthly budget and feel in control of their healthcare. 

Patients who know they have upcoming costs can anticipate those needs and plan for them in a monthly budget, which is a win-win for the practice and the patient. Additional patient benefits include the following:  

Lower financial stress. A survey showed that regardless of the economic climate, money and finance have remained a top stressor since 2007. What’s more, is that stress related to financial issues could have a significant impact on Americans’ health and well-being. Giving people a simple way to pay for healthcare can help reduce this stress. Practices that offer 100% financing remove this stressor on the front-end for their patients, enhancing the overall patient experience. 

Alternative to traditional lending options. In the past, some patients sought help from traditional lenders, but this option isn’t always available for those with credit challenges. Estimates show that as many as 40% of patients seeking credit from top healthcare lenders are denied. Applying for a loan can be stressful, documentation intensive, and decisions can take a long time. With this new model, these stressors are avoided. 

Fewer delays in treatment. Patients delay treatment for a variety of reasons, but among the biggest is affordability. Doctors know that delaying treatment can negatively impact a person’s health, and practices are dedicated to keeping people healthy. Payment options give patients the option to get care now and pay later. 

Patient financing is clearly good for patients, giving them options to make healthcare affordable. But what about the practice? An internal financing program can weigh practices down with high administrative costs, bad debt, and potential risks. However, working with a third-party partner can provide all the benefits to your practice, without the risk. 

Benefits For Your Practice 

Practices that provide personalized financing options without the burden of administering that program in-house experience many benefits. Not only do they build stronger relationships with patients by saying, “we’re going to help you pay for this,” but they also benefit from improved cash flow and stronger financial health. Benefits include: 

Better use of your team’s time. Having staff dedicated to dealing with patient collection-related tasks is a huge drain on your business. Getting this task out of the practice frees up employees to focus on other work that improves the patient experience.

Cash flow improvements. Practices that get involved in patient financing are essentially providing credit without any interest or return on investment. At the same time, your expenses including payroll, equipment, and supplies continue to add up. Every month in which balances aren’t paid promptly puts additional strain on your business. Some financing partners will give you the option of receiving the funds upfront, which greatly improves cash flow. 

Reduction in risk of bad debt. Bad debt is a problem for even the healthiest of practices. Employees are logging many hours collecting debt and at the same time, you have the cash flow to consider. Partnering with the right financing provider allows you to mitigate potential risks and improve the financial health of your practice. 

Increase in patient satisfaction. Happy patients will tell friends and family members about your practice. When they meet somebody looking for a new doctor, they will quickly share your information as a service to their friend. Reducing worry about how to pay for care through payment options allows you to build goodwill with patients and make it easier for them to refer you to the people they care about. 

Tool for retaining patients. Patients don’t like feeling stressed out about unexpected healthcare costs. Once they realize that you have easy financing options, they will be more likely to seek care from your practice versus one that does not have flexible payment options available. 

Flexible payment options benefit both the practice and its patients, but how can you select a partner that is right for your practice? Money is a hot topic for patients, and when you have a partner that operates with the same dedication to patient care as your practice does, you can provide a service that is a natural extension of your business. 

What to Look For in a Solution 

Every patient has different financial needs, which is why it’s important to select a healthcare financing partner that offers flexible options. You need a complete healthcare payment system that provides your practice with a variety of payment capabilities — all in one place. For example, in addition to providing patient financing, you can offer mobile payment options and “card on file” technologies. A few important considerations include: 

User-friendly and efficient online payment options. People like to pay online and by text. When a person pays their agreed monthly payment, you want that process to be simplified and automated if possible. 

Personalized options. Patients want to feel truly known by their providers, and this demand extends to payment options. They don’t want a one-size-fits-all approach, but one that is customized to their needs and budget. 

Easy approval. Filling out large amounts of paperwork only to get rejected is frustrating for patients. Instead, work with a partner that approves 100% of patients regardless of credit history, giving all your patients access to the tools and resources they need. 

Patient support services. Patients will view their financing experience as an extension of your practice. If they have a problem with the financing, that will reflect poorly on you. Select a partner that is highly qualified and courteous, that has the same level of compassion for patients as your practice does. 

Moving Forward With Success 

Adopting a patient financing program is a powerful way to help patients manage the rising cost of healthcare while simultaneously improving your practice’s financial stability. But not all third-party partners are created equally, so it’s important to understand even the smallest details about their patient financing program options. 

The rewards of selecting the right partner are great and include greater cash flow, improved patient experience, and more patient referrals. As a result, you will improve your financial stability while at the same time building stronger and more meaningful relationships with your patients. 

How to Increase Revenue in Your Veterinary Practice

Animals were traditionally defined as property, but more owners now see their pet as a family member, which means they expect the best possible care for their companion. Even though your veterinary office exists to help pet owners and their pets, your ability to continue helping both depends on how much revenue your practice is generating. 

So while the health of your clients’ pets is always top-of-mind, the health of your practice is not to be neglected. Here are three ways that you can increase revenue in your veterinary office, while maintaining a productive relationship with your both clients and their pets. 

Increase Revenue in Your Veterinary Office by Increasing Traffic

The most straightforward way to increase revenue in a veterinary office is to increase traffic. This may sound obvious, but not everyone has a prime location on a major street with people standing on the corners shouting your name. Unfortunately, brick-and-mortar businesses of any kind can no longer rely on a physical location to provide them with new business. It’s now all about digital location.

Most people looking for veterinary care are going to conduct research online before deciding on a provider. Of course, it is always possible, and beneficial, to generate new business through word of mouth, but if your practice doesn’t have an online presence, you’re undoubtedly missing out on a considerable amount of opportunity.

So, how do you get established online? If you haven’t already, need to create a Google My Business (GMB) profile. As a small, local business, it’s important that you have both a website and a GMB profile in order to start ranking for local searches.

In other words, when someone in your area runs a Google search for “veterinarian near me,” you want to be one of the first results to show up. In order to improve your likelihood of being found in a search, be sure to keep your GMB up-to-date with fresh photos so Google knows you’re active.

Check your profile regularly to ensure accuracy, because profile info can be edited by anyone. Have profiles on Yelp, Bing Places, Facebook, Foursquare, and any other relevant online business directories. It also helps to contribute consistently to your social media platforms of choice and ask satisfied clients for online reviews. This is where your word-of-mouth will really shine. 

Building an online presence through directories, social media, and reviews doesn’t just help new clients find you. It also sends signals to Google that you’re a relevant business, which bumps you up in the rankings. This is important because creating an online presence is one of the most effective ways to increase revenue in your veterinary office.

Increase Revenue in Your Veterinary Office with Payment Processing Options

These days, all consumers like having the world at their fingertips. It’s how the majority of your clients find you online. It’s also why clients are gravitating toward payment processing options that are fast and convenient. We’ve been conditioned by online retailers, like Amazon, to expect ease an immediacy when it comes to making payments. This expectation has seeped into healthcare, too, as indicated by the rise of healthcare consumerism.

Offering a variety of payment processing options allows clients to pay in the manner most comfortable to them. As a result, you’ll not only attract and retain more clients, but you’ll significantly reduce any delayed or unpaid balances.

Increase revenue in your veterinary office by offering payment processing options such as:

Not only will offering payment options improve your bottom line, but it’s also proven to increase client satisfaction.

Increase Revenue in Your Veterinary Office with Financing Options

Though clients can purchase veterinary insurance, they are limited in what they offer, and if a pet has certain illnesses, they are not guaranteed to be covered. If a pet needs certain medications, it can become an even bigger point of contention between you and your clients. 

Offering client financing is a way to meet clients where they are. By tailoring a solution to fit their budget, they can afford the care and medications their pets need, and your practice can receive the revenue it requires to operate at its best.

Not only does financing ensure that clients can always afford treatment for their pets, but it also makes them trust in and feel welcomed by your practice. 

You’ve made both client and pet comfortable in your space while accommodating their finances–a dynamic that’s sure to not just bring you more clients, but also help you retain those already in your care.

Payment processing and financing can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. ClearGage specializes in the tools needed to develop a financing program that benefits your clients and practice alike. Discover how ClearGage systems can delight your clients (and their pets) and improve your bottom line when you schedule a demo with us today.

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