Collecting payment is the bane of many practices. This is one area that can almost always be improved to increase revenue. Zetter said a sound financial policy should be communicated to patients and strictly adhered to. Office staff should know to take co-pays when patients arrive and try to collect balances immediately. “If patients ignore the first statement, they will ignore second and third, too,” Zetter said.
Two tactics he recommends to improve collections are to make phone calls directly to patients to find out why they haven’t paid. If you are able to catch people, they are usually willing to work it out, he said.
Another option is to keep a credit card on file. There are strict regulations about doing this, but it allows you to automatically put a co-pay on the card. And if the patient has given you permission, you can automatically deduct the balances.
“I have practices where upwards of 60% of patients in a practice put credit cards up and the payment flows even quicker,” Zetter said.
Get the word out
Marketing tends to be the part of any physician’s to-do list that starts at the top, moves to the middle, and then to the bottom. But Iezzoni said top-tier practices are the ones that are spending money on marketing.
Doctors shouldn’t do something like this internally, he said. They need to hire professionals. In non-medical markets, he recommends people spend 3% of profits on marketing annually. He would like to see physicians investing 5% whenever possible.
“When I get my oil changed, they always give me literature after that says we appreciate you and your business and want to see you back,” he said. “Doctors should be doing these kinds of things, too.”