Putting the patient first: Developing personalized payment plans for compassionate patient collections

Published: September 18, 2013 by Steve Millhouse

We live in a choice-based society. Every day we are at liberty to make a myriad of choices. like where we live, where our kids go to school, what to eat, whether to exercise, which car we drive or what movie to see.

This era of consumerism also means we have choices for healthcare. And since patients now have greater financial responsibility for their healthcare, they are becoming more selective about where they go to receive medical attention, looking not only for high quality but also positive, cost-effective and informative interactions. As patients become choosier, healthcare organizations must improve their commitment to being good stewards of the care experience.

To help make things more manageable, many healthcare organizations are turning or already have turned to payment plans to become more patient centric. To that end, industry estimates point to around payment plans being leveraged for one in five outstanding patient accounts, and use of these tools has grown by more than 50 percent in some organizations.

While this information may not be news to you, the crux of this approach is that all too often payment plans take “a one size fits all” approach, following a generic formula for all patients without regard to payment history, demographic information or other key financial data. The result? Default rates between 40-60 percent, defeating the overarching goal of reducing patient bad debt.

All is not lost! With a data-driven approach to developing patient payment plans, healthcare organizations avoid the common pitfall with a win-win for both patient and organization. By using technology to analyze key information about a patient’s financial situation, an organization can accurately anticipate a patient’s propensity to pay. The technology can then review this information, along with other financial data and organizational policies — such as minimum payment amounts — and generate personalized payment plans that offer optimal terms and amounts.

Taking a data-driven approach is a way to extend your organization’s commitment to compassionate care to the billing and collections process. Embracing this method allows business office staff to be responsive to the patient’s unique financial situation, just as the clinical staff is responsive to a patient’s medical status.

Leveraging data to develop the optimal patient payment plan helps set the stage for a positive interaction, boosting patient satisfaction and ensuring patients choose your organization as their long-term healthcare destination. Not only does this improve the patient experience, but healthcare organizations are also better able to collect optimal payment in a timely fashion, knowing what each patient can safely afford.

Want to learn more about how to develop personalized payment plans that meet the unique needs of patients? We’d be happy to help. Check out our latest product addition, Payment Plan Advisor℠.

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