Unlike most for-profit businesses, hospitals and healthcare organizations don’t have just one “bottom line.” Why? Because in healthcare, a healthy profit and loss statement is as important as providing quality care and an exceptional patient experience. And as payment models change, it is increasingly difficult to achieve one without the other.
In our years working with industry leaders, we’ve learned that there are actually five key elements to a healthy bottom line, and establishing benchmarks in these areas is critical to answering the most important question of all: How well do you really communicate your patients’ payment responsibility?
Gathering accurate and up-to-date information is a critical piece of the patient admission process. The information needs to be correct, upfront, and clear on the diagnosis. If there are any questions about the diagnosis, communication with the physician is key. Healthcare organizations that do not place a priority on this practice end up paying for it in denials – and in more ways than one.
Patient Payment Issues
Successful organizations create a process for dealing with patient payment issues during the admission process. This is the perfect time to determine if there are any challenges the patient may face in paying their bill, and a good opportunity to offer assistance options and to try to clear up any past-due accounts they may already have on the books. This is also a good time to determine if the patient qualifies for charity care.
Communication of Payment Expectations
How well do you really communicate your patients’ payment responsibility? That is the $6 million question. Why $6 million? Because improving communication about patient responsibility and providing estimates of their balance after insurance before receiving care resulted in an increased cash flow of more than $6 million over five years for one of our clients, and this approach can work for you too.
Asking for Payment Up Front
Inform the patient of their responsibility before services, simply and clearly. Review their deductibles, co-pays, past-due balances, and deposits with them before any services are rendered.
Finally, stay focused on providing the very best service. You likely didn’t get into the business of healthcare to collect money – your priority is providing the best care. But it’s also true that your Medicaid reimbursement rates will be affected if your patient surveys are negative. Concentrating on these five key elements will ensure that your patient survey ratings improve along with your cash flow.
Have questions about improving your pre-encounter and pre-admissions programs? Get in touch with one of our experts today.