3 Strategies to Speed Up The Patient Payment Journey

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Chloe From Clearwave | October 23, 2023

When payments are slow it’s frustrating for healthcare providers, meanwhile patients may be confused or unaware of these past-due balances. With rising costs and frequent patient insurance policy changes, it’s no wonder that accounts receivable cycles are getting longer. In fact, 56% of medical groups reported their collections time in accounts receivable has increased in recent years. Additionally, 1/3 of physicians state their financial progress is worse than in previous years. It’s taking longer and longer to receive payment. How can you overcome this revenue challenge?

There are ways to streamline the patient payment process and accelerate cash flow for your medical practice while meeting patient expectations and providing transparency. Here are three key strategies to speed up the patient payment journey:

1. Provide Payment Estimates Upfront

One way to speed up payments is to give patients an estimate of their out-of-pocket costs before their appointment. This allows patients to be prepared to pay their portion on the date of service.

Providing estimates ahead of appointments sets clear financial expectations for your patients. Sending estimates ahead of time reduces confusion and pushback when it’s time to collect payment. It also shows patients you’re invested in making their payment process easy and transparent. According to a 2021 survey, 83% of patients want to see accurate information on out-of-pocket costs before having health care services. Additionally, 25% of patients have avoided obtaining care due to a lack of cost information.

Start by verifying insurance eligibility and benefits for scheduled patients prior to their visit. With automated eligibility verification that won’t charge you per transaction, you can get real-time benefits data and verify it for any updates proactively, before a patient even comes into the office. 

Use this information to build a revenue-driving patient estimations approach that enables you to verify eligibility benefits, determine co-pays and estimates for upcoming visits. With all this information available at the push of a button for your practice, you can present patients with accurate estimates that they can review and plan ahead for. This estimation approach is already helping practices reduce self-pay patient responsibility and write-offs.

Without efficient insurance verification, staff must chase down payers and patients after visits to get payments, increasing accounts receivable time. Automating verification and providing real-time dashboards lets staff resolve issues before appointments, speeding upfront payment.

Look for a verification solution that doesn’t charge per transaction. This option gives you accurate data at scheduling, pre-visit and check-in. Combined with an intuitive dashboard, staff can quickly fix errors pre-visit. This blog covers what to look for in a patient insurance eligibility solution in depth.

2. Collect Payments at Check-In

Collecting payments at check-in, rather than waiting until after the appointment, is another way to accelerate the payment cycle. According to recent studies, the probability of collecting payment once a patient leaves the office is 30%. It’s critical to secure payment before services are rendered. Point-of-service collections reduce unpaid balances and minimize collections efforts down the road. The quicker you get paid, the faster you can reinvest those funds in your practice.

You may also want to consider implementing card-on-file programs to make check-in collections smooth and simple for returning patients. 

Offering self-registration kiosks to patients at check-in is a proven way to increase point-of-service collections. This approach reduces staff involvement, which streamlines the process and ensures privacy for patients. Patient check-in kiosks also allow for quicker self-registration upon arrival at the office. With this tool, patients can confirm their demographics, insurance information and reason for visit on an intuitive touchscreen interface.

A smart kiosk check-in system can also seamlessly integrate with your practice management system to display past-due balances and automatically collect payments. This ensures you capitalize on collecting outstanding balances at every visit. Additionally, kiosks provide a portal-free way for patients to pay without needing to remember a patient portal login or passwords,  which increases adoption compared to traditional patient portals that have low utilization rates. 

With consistent kiosk use, you reduce missed payment opportunities that occur when staff are too busy or uncomfortable collecting. Leveraging self-service technology puts payment collection on autopilot so you can reduce write-offs and accelerate revenue. 

Learn how Complete Women’s Care OBGYN increased monthly co-pay collections by 61% by downloading this case study!

3. Send Cleaner Claims for Faster Reimbursement

Improve data capture to solve front-end challenges that lead to stalls in the back-end billing process and ultimately, slower payments. Claims rejections often occur due to bad patient data, like misspelled names, wrong birth dates, or incorrect insurance IDs. While small, these mistakes create big setbacks. Rejected claims must be corrected and resubmitted, extending your time-to-payment and increasing costs.

Patients may also not provide updated addresses or phone numbers if the information isn’t readily available to them. 

Automate patient data capture and reconciliation through self-registration to capture cleaner data at check-in and reduce your claims rejections rate. When patients check-in and scan insurance cards and licenses, you increase accurate data collection versus staff manual entry. Considering 86% of healthcare mistakes are administrative errors, when you remove the human element from registration you will quickly drive cleaner data. Self-registration lets patients review their information and update details like phone numbers and addresses. This digital patient-led approach ensures you can drive cleaner claims and contact patients when it comes time to send a bill. By capturing accurate information upfront, you can accelerate claims processing in the back end. This results in faster payments and improved revenue cycle management.

Speed Up Your Revenue Cycle

A slow revenue cycle leads to cash flow problems and financial headaches for healthcare practices. Following strategies to send upfront estimates, increase point-of-service collections and drive cleaner data capture you can accelerate your patients’ payment journey.

Look for solutions that can significantly improve your revenue cycle efficiency. The right insurance eligibility software can help:

Decrease Insurance Claim Rejections

Automated eligibility checks pre-visit to ensure you have accurate coverage data. This step prevents claims from being rejected later due to incorrect policy details. Fewer rejections means less time and cost spent on resubmissions.

Accelerate Cash Flow

Collecting payment at check-in via self-service kiosks means you get reimbursed faster instead of waiting days to weeks after appointments. Upfront patient estimates also set clear financial expectations, leading to fewer payment delays.

Reduce Staff Workloads

Eligibility automation and self-check-in tools eliminate manual workflows for staff. This step saves them time so they can focus on high-value billing and collections tasks instead of administrative burdens.

With a more efficient payment process, you improve the patient’s financial experience while expediting your own practice’s financial health and stability. Learn how Montgomery Cardiovascular Associates implemented a comprehensive patient engagement platform to improve the patient payment journey by downloading this case study.

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