At what point should practices “leave money on the table” and abandon their collection efforts on patient-owed balances? It’s a difficult decision that today’s practices are being forced to make more often than they’d like.
Collecting past-due balances from patients is an important component of the revenue cycle that physician practices must actively manage, but it’s costly, time-consuming and labor-intensive. Only a relatively small percentage of efforts result in successful collection. For the remaining patients who fail to respond, practices are forced to report debts to credit bureaus or take legal action to collect past-due balances. In the end, every dollar invested in the collection process is one less dollar of profit for the practice.
But it gets worse. The cost of collecting on small-dollar accounts can easily exceed the past-due balance. The result is that many practices choose to “leave money on the table” rather than pursue advanced collection efforts. Over the course of year, these ignored accounts add up to a substantial sum of money.
Perhaps now, with the assistance of technology, practices will no longer have to make the decision to forego collecting past-due balances. A new breed of automated collection software eases the burden of patient collections. These solutions reduce the time and costs associated with standard mail delivery and costly representative phone calls.
Automated collection software can be installed and managed by practices to relentlessly – within regulations – contact debtors to increase collection rates. Practices that are considering the implementation of this software should look for the following capabilities:
- Messaging Options – These allow practices to tailor how the patient will be contacted. Options include text, secure text, email, secure email, push notifications to smart phones, and automated calls. These options allow practice to contact debtors via multiple methods to increase collections.
- Decision Rules – These allow practices to configure when and how often the debtor is contacted. Options include setting the date, time, hour and frequency of contact.
Practices employing automated collection software can reduce their collection costs and increase the chances of collecting balances by eliminating representative involvement and automating the process. Most importantly, practices can quit “leaving money on the table.”