We’ve reached the last in our series discussing the common challenges faced in revenue cycle management, including billing and collections, undertrained staff, the importance of the right health information software, as well as the failure to monitor the entire claims process. Let’s take a look at the value of having a financial policy in place.

The goal of a financial policy is to inform patients about how billing is processed and when payments are due. It keeps everyone on the same page regarding expectations while providing legal protection for your practice.

So, what should you include in the financial policy? The financial responsibility of the patient needs to be addressed as well as when payments are owed. For example, if the patient has a copay, notify them that it will be collected at the time of service. Include information about forms of payment that are accepted, the policy regarding nonpayment, as well as charges for missed appointments, if applicable.

Unfortunately, with the number of high deductible plans increasing, the responsibility has shifted to the consumer rather than the payer. Patients aren’t always saving for medical bills and may not be prepared to pay the high cost of their treatment or service. To help boost patient revenue and to decrease sticker shock, organizations should try to provide accurate estimates of the cost of service, if possible, while informing the patient of their financial responsibility.

Also, try to offer many forms of payment. Making payments convenient and easy means patients are likely to pay more quickly or even on the spot. Offering credit card payments can be favorable to some while other patients still prefer paper bills and check payments. Online payments are becoming more popular and are a convenient way to pay. For those struggling to afford the high cost of healthcare, offer payment plans.

Policies should always be available, electronically or in writing, and should be reviewed with the patient often. Some practices find that having the patient read and sign the policy at every visit increases their awareness of your expectations. It may also be beneficial to make the policy easier to read by breaking it down into parts and having the patient initial each section. Have a knowledgeable employee who can review the policy with the patient and can thoroughly explain their insurance benefits.

It’s an excellent practice to routinely look over your financial policy, making sure it’s up-to-date and reflects the expectations of your practice. Also, have your policy checked by legal counsel to confirm its accuracy.

Your primary job is to take care of people and their medical and emotional needs. Sometimes it’s a challenge to ask for money while trying not to sound unsympathetic. The more information that can be shared in the financial policy, the greater chance the patient understands and complies.

Reliance Medical Billing Solutions is here to assist in your medical billing needs and is ready to answer any questions you may have. Our goal is to simplify your revenue cycle management. To learn more about our services or to receive a customized quote, contact us at 717-740-2622 or visit our website at www.reliancembs.com.