Bill paying: Don’t set it and forget it

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Monday, August 3, 2020

WATERLOO, Iowa – With an estimated 60% of DME patients walking out the door without making any sort of a payment, Jennifer Leon says it’s time for a shift in thinking.

“We have to change the mindset,” said Leon, vice president of patient collections for Brightree, during a session for VGM’s Heartland at Home Conference in June. “We are no longer going to bill and chase; we are going to collect at the time of service.”

That means everyone from front-line staffers to delivery techs needs to be able to have conversations with patients about money, even before those patients walk through the door, Leon says. Two ways to do that: prequalify patients on the phone or provide them with price estimates.

“Everybody wants to know what something is going to cost,” she said. “Patients are a little different in that they may not expect it to cost anything. (They may think) there will be no financial commitment since their insurances covers it, or they think the provider will write the balance off.”

With traditionally high turnover in jobs like customer service and patient intake, Leon recommends regularly training staff, providing them with updated talking points and offering them incentives.

“It’s not a crockpot: You can’t set it and forget it,” she said. “Hold them accountable and give them some goals to achieve. Make it a competition. If you make it fun and easy for staff, it’s going to be easier for them.”

Speaking of easy, make sure it’s easy for patients to pay, says Leon. A quick poll during the session revealed that only 32% of providers said they have an easy-to-find “pay button” on their websites and 45% said they don’t have one at all.

“That’s astonishing,” she said. “If we could take one thing from today’s session, let’s make sure we have a way to pay bills easily.”