Patient Statements: Your Secret Weapon to Improve Patient Payments

Every year, patients are paying more out of pocket for their healthcare – and given recent headlines, the situation may become worse. As a result of COVID-19 costs, one organization estimates that premiums for private plans will increase between 4 – 40% next year. In addition to monthly premiums, deductibles are on a steady rise as well. The percentage of workers with a deductible of $2,000 or more has increased from 18% to 28% over the past five years.

As a result of the shift in reimbursement from insurance payers to patients via high deductibles, patient revenue is a top source of income for many providers, following closely behind Medicare and commercial plans such as BCBS. Even before the pandemic, patient collections were a significant concern for providers, as indicated by a survey where 58% said collecting from patients was their top revenue cycle concern.1

Are organizations underestimating the impact of patient statements, and by association, patient payment options on their bottom line? Some statistics to consider:

  • 70% of consumers reported being confused by their medical bills
  • 80% said an easy-to-read statement was important for their medical bill experience
  • 65% would consider switching providers for better healthcare payments experience
  • 80% said that payment channel choices were very or somewhat important to their medical bill payment experience

Despite worries about collecting from patients, 41% of providers haven’t updated their patient statements in five years or more.1

The cost of patient statements

In addition to patient preferences driving a re-think of how you bill, statement material and labor expenses can impact your bottom line. The material costs are well over a dollar to mail a statement, and of course the labor of coordinating their generation and mailing needs to be factored in as well.  According to an MGMA Stat poll, over 46% of respondents mail three statements before a patient account is sent to collections.

Given patient perceptions, and the high cost of sending statements, taking a second look at your patient billing and payment systems may be in order.

Boost revenue with easy patient statements and payments

When updating your patient billing and payment systems, there are three critical components to bear in mind: statements, payments and past-due reminders. VOWHS can provide your practice with these features, as well as electronic statements receive payments faster.

Customized statements provide opportunities

Customized statements, especially electronic statements (e-statements), are an excellent way to decrease costs, a resourceful way to communicate with patients and useful tool to reduce billing question calls into the office. Practices that take advantage of customized messaging can communicate things such as:

  • If you think your claim is denied in error, please contact your insurance carrier to confirm coverage before calling us.
  • Question about your bill? Go to our website (insert your web address) for answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Want to speak to a billing representative? Call (insert your billing phone number). Press (X) for a callback if you don’t want to wait on hold.

Customized e-statements are also an opportunity to tell your patients what they owe in a straightforward way. Columns can be tailored into easy-to-understand language. For example, rather than calling an amount due “coinsurance,” customized statements can call it “your portion.” Rather than using the word “adjustment” at the top of a column, you can choose to call it an “insurance discount.” Small changes in wording can create a tremendous positive impact on patients. For example, a heart specialist practice was able to collect nearly $3,000 more a week with customized statements.2

The convenience of online bill pay encourages payment

It is well documented that patients are in a consumer mindset. Many see a statement as just another bill to pay and think, “If I can pay my utility bill online, why not my medical bill?” Younger patients may not even possess a checkbook! Online bill pay offers the convenience of 24/7 availability. It also makes it easy for caretakers to pay bills for their loved ones on a credit card rather than directly from a bank account. Up to 75% of patients will pay their bills online given the opportunity.2

Automated past due reminders

Most patients have every intention of paying their medical bill. However, sometimes other bills take priority, or they are distracted by life events. Rather than sending out another costly statement, automated phone calls and texts can be a quick and effective reminder that their bill is past due. If you offer online bill pay, some patients near a computer will pay as soon as they receive the alert. One practice in St. Louis used a combination of online bill pay and automated reminders to shave almost a week off their accounts receivable (A/R).2

Is it time to investigate how updating your patient billing and payment systems can improve revenue? Using the right partner for practice management software and billing makes it easy. Contact us today at (412) 424-2265 or visit our RCM page. 

1 Four ways group practices can create a better patient experience. MGMA.

2 POS Professional Office Services, Inc. (2020).
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