Revenue Cycle Management: A Remedy for Aging Receivables?

As healthcare deductibles rise, collecting from patients has become more challenging than ever before. Could revenue cycle management be a remedy?

Gary Cavett June 22, 2018

Collecting from patients has long been a challenge for medical practices. Given the current popularity of high-deductible plans, many practices are seeing accounts receivable balances stay on the books longer than ever before. Approaching this issue through the lens of revenue cycle management may provide a remedy.

Revenue cycle management, as I’ve discussed in past articles, examines the relationships between patients, providers, employees, and payers to address issues within a practice’s revenue cycle. In the case of aging receivables, following a revenue cycle management process might involve the following:

  • Making sure patients understand their insurance obligations. Unfortunately, many patients don’t understand the relationship between insurance companies and healthcare providers. And, sadly, some simply don’t value medical services as much as they value other necessities—or even luxuries. Asking the right questions when a patient checks in for an office visit can help to clarify their payment obligations. First, always ask for a current insurance card. It’s not unheard of for patients to change insurance and not be forthcoming about it. Second, ask if the patient knows his or her deductible amount, and if it’s been met.
  • Asking patients to pay for services up front using a credit card. This has always been the modus operandi of dentists and chiropractors. Working up expected charges and asking patients to present a credit card before leaving your clinic is not out of the question. Depending on the post-insurance balance, you can then either credit or debit the patient’s account. You could even encourage patients to apply for a healthcare credit card—one designed specifically for financing healthcare balances. It’s not a bad idea to make sure patients who have high-deductible plans understand the benefits of a health savings account, too.
  • Establishing a strategy for collecting from patients. Reaching out to patients to collect payment can be both time consuming and, in some ways, risky. The time your staff spends mailing medical bills or picking up the phone can quickly add up. And some patients may see these actions as callous and even inappropriate.Having a well thought-out strategy for pursuing collections from patients can help you answer questions such as: Will your practice allow installments? At what point do you pick up the phone on a past-due account, or write off an aged receivable?

Take care of the underlying issues.

Using these revenue cycle management tools can help you mitigate the underlying issues associated with aging receivables. At DS+B, we take this approach a step further to identify issues by payer and patient to understand how deep the problem lies—and how to cure it quickly.