Looking for ways to increase patient copay collections in your chiropractic office? Here are seven things that will help.
Some of the most frequent comments we hear from our clients have to do with the challenges of collecting patient co-pays. Specifically, we often hear things like:
- “The office staff feels awkward collecting the money – they don’t feel confident handling it.”
- “The patient is claiming financial hardship and resists paying – it’s frustrating and uncomfortable.”
- “Co-pay collections aren’t a part of our official process.”
The failure to collect those patient co-pays during office visits can cost your practice thousands of dollars. And while using insurance billing services (like the ones ACOM Health provides) will dramatically increase your revenue, there are things you can do within your chiropractic office that will greatly improve your co-pay collections. Here are some top tips and simple solutions for collecting co-pays the right way.
- Have the Right Attitude
Front office personnel often feel uncomfortable and even embarrassed to ask patients for money. They might physically squirm, soften their voice, or even sound apologetic when addressing the topic. Payments should not be treated as options. If you give your patients the choice to pay at the time of service or pay later, of course they’ll choose the latter. Train your staff to remove that choice from the conversation. For example, replace the question, “Do you want to take care of your co-pay today, or shall we bill you?” with, “Your co-pay today is $25. How will you be paying?”
- Be Courteous
There are some people who equate being firm with being unpleasant. The way to increase copay collections is not by placing a human pitbull at the front desk. Intimidating or bullying patients into paying isn’t the solution. It is possible to be friendly, caring and understanding while also being clear with payment expectations. Present payment options to your patients while also maintaining a courteous and pleasant demeanor.
- Address Financial Hardships with Policy
There are some patients who won’t pay their co-pays, citing financial hardships. And then they jaunt off to the parking lot and drive off in a Mercedes convertible. Do not allow your patients to intimidate your staff and mandate co-pay policies. On the other hand, there are patients who suffer from legitimate financial strain, and you can handle such situations in humane but fiscally responsible ways. This includes having written policies in place and readily available to immediately share when necessary.
- Leave Financial Discussions to the Office Staff
It’s not uncommon for office staff to express frustrations with a chiropractor’s tendency to engage in financial discussions with patients. Why is this a problem? Because billing managers and other staff members who are responsible for collections can be permanently discredited when chiropractors get involved. It also negatively changes the relationship between the doctor and patient in irreparable ways.
- Define Staff Member Responsibilities
Does each individual in the office understand their role in the financial process? And have they been given the proper training to fulfill those roles? Make sure that expectations for collecting patient fees are included in job descriptions.
- Improve Patient Intake Procedures
Make sure that a patient’s insurance information and eligibility are determined from the get-go. In addition, ensure that all personal data – like identification numbers, date of birth, social security numbers and insurance card copies – are accurate and complete. One key to increased revenue and a smooth patient intake process is to utilize fully-automated EHR software that includes paperless, self-service patient intake and online registration. This will have a direct impact on intake efficiency.
- Give Your Staff the Right Tools
As discussed earlier, asking for money can be awkward and uncomfortable. Effective communication is crucial when it comes to collecting co-payments consistently and successfully. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources to help, including actual scripts that work. Take a look at this downloadable guide from the American Medical Association that includes responses for a number of scenarios. In addition, check out AMA’s point-of-care pricing toolkit to view webinars and more information on how to prepare your staff to collect payments at the time of service.