Five Strategies for Strategic Debt Recovery of Self-Pay Patient Accounts

Scott Koenig, for HealthLeaders Media , March 29, 2010

Few people are comfortable requesting payment from patients. Many untrained representatives often resort to passive inquiries like "Would you like to pay your balance today?" enabling the patient to answer "No," or provide an excuse. Ideally, the better approach would involve the representative stating the balance and then saying, "For your convenience we offer [list your payment options]. How would you like to take care of this today?" This is a very simple example of how modifying everyday communication can make a difference.

5. Understand the weaknesses of your business office operations. One key to keeping your cost to collect in line with recovery results lies in understanding the capabilities of your business office and augmenting those capabilities where needed.

Areas that may need additional attention include: statement generation processes, payment plan monitoring, charity care qualification, incoming customer service and outgoing patient follow-up. Even with the latest advances in information system software, many systems lack efficient features required for effective follow-up on patient liability balances.

The antidote for curtailing bad debt and uncompensated care is a streamlined payment recovery process from self-pay patients. Financial leaders should strive to design an effective and efficient process that utilizes metrics, better patient awareness of POS payment and employee POS collections training and understanding the limitations of your business office.

Scott Koenig is president and owner of KeyBridge Medical Revenue Management, an Ohio-based accounts receivable management firm specializing in the healthcare. He is a past president of the MDHBA, a national association of healthcare receivables management firms as well as past president and current board member of the Ohio Receivables Management Association (ORMA), the state unit of ACA International.
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