The public health emergency in the US has again brought to surface the importance of financial and medical care to every patient. Successful healthcare organizations have made sure that financial interactions are carried with the same sensitivity and empathy as clinical encounters. The same needs to continue during this difficult time. Many healthcare organizations are facing heightened levels of uncertainty. Similarly, many patients have lost jobs and do not have any ability to pay their balances anytime soon. Providers not only have to treat the growing number of patients but also need to stay safe themselves. All facets of healthcare are under immense stress, including revenue cycle management functions.
Patients are also transitioning to the WFH model, and this means more opportunities to connect. Many might even have lost their jobs during this challenging period. This means all communications need to be compassionate and empathetic. Each interaction must be fine-tuned to acknowledge the patient’s stressful situation.
Automated coverage determination and pre-screening uninsured will make sure that unnecessary calls to patients can be avoided. This is not a time to get repeated calls and reminders on out of pocket balances.
Proactive communications can be made to update changes in employment and financial status changes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. This will make sure that providers are more informed about the ability to pay of their patients.
Now is the time to deploy new payment plans since many patients would have lost the ability to resolve their dues. This proactive approach will enable the practices to continue to collect and maintain momentum. Instead of asking for full payment of patient balances, which might lead to no payments at all, it is much better to ease the burden by offering tailor-made payment plans.
Patient portal can be used to administer payment plans automatically and can also be used to send electronic patient statements and itemized bills. This functionality also gives the freedom to come online whenever they like and make the necessary payments.
Now is the time to look at financial assistance policy, discounting, and write-off provisions. With more and more individuals filing paperwork for unemployment, this is a much-needed breather for the patients.
Practices should delay in sending to collection agencies. This way, patients would get additional time to settle their outstanding balances. Working with collection agencies so that punitive actions such as garnishments or credit reporting are not undertaken will also positively impact the practice-patient relationship.
These tactics will enable the practices and healthcare entities to establish a long-term relationship with the patients and will lead to a mutually-beneficial relationship once this crisis abates.
Zawna Health, LLC is one of the best medical billing and coding companies when it comes to increasing reimbursement, reducing denials rate, improving cash flow, and getting the claims out the door faster which means faster payments. We assist physician offices, ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals stay in top shape always.
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