Patient healthcare cost, including a range of expenses such as copay, deductibles and other out of pocket costs, have skyrocketed by almost 30% since 2015. As changes in insurance have put patients in the position of taking on more financial responsibility for their healthcare, collections have become a greater challenge for medical service providers across the board.
These payment challenges can present real problems for your physical therapy practice. For many practices, co-pay collection can present an obstacle to patient care. Here are four ways to improve co-pay collection at your physical therapy office so that your staff can put more focus on the other elements of patient care.
Be Clear About Co-Pay Policies
Not every patient that walks through your door is expecting to pay a co-pay for your services. This is why it’s crucial to have a solidified policy about co-pay collection and make sure that the patient is aware of it by having them acknowledge the policy either in the form of a written document or electronically before services are administered.
To make your co-pay policy as transparent as possible, make sure that you use patient-friendly language that’s easy for them to understand and be very clear about payment expectations. For example, state when the co-pay is due, where payment can be made, what types of payments are accepted and what accommodations, if any, can be made for patients with extenuating financial circumstances.
Verify Coverage Before the Visit
This is a simple step that occurs in practically every provider’s office, however, it’s especially important to make this a priority for physical therapy offices. Considering that some insurance providers handle physical therapy services differently than standard care visits, it’s important that both your office and the patient are aware of their co-pay responsibilities before the patient actually arrives for their treatment.
This provides your office staff with the opportunity to notify the patient and inform them of co-pay requirements ahead of time so that there is no awkward collection process in the office.
Train Staff in Effective Communication Strategies
Conversations that involve requests for any type of payment might make some members of your front office staff uncomfortable, especially when they’re engaging with a patient who might be questioning their co-payment responsibilities. It’s important that each staff member who might find themselves in the position of dealing with a financial patient dispute feel comfortable having the conversation.
This includes training them on effective communication strategies, as well as providing them with the knowledge and technology they need to effectively answer patient questions about co-pay requirements.
Maximize Patient Portals
If you aren’t already, your practice should be using the latest physical therapy EMR technology. This includes a patient portal that provides patients access to their medical information, along with details about their co-pay requirements and the option to pay online before they arrive in the office. This can also be an effective strategy for encouraging the patient to keep a credit card on file to automatically bill co-pay charges to.
If you’re a physical therapy provider that’s looking to streamline the co-pay collection process, we have the medical billing software that can help. Contact Raintree Systems today to learn more about the tools we can provide for your practice.