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Optimizing Self-Pay Collection to Aid Patients, Revenue During COVID-19

Feed a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life. We have all heard that familiar saying that seeks to illustrate the importance of showing someone how something is done rather than just doing it for that person. The same can be said for accepting payments in the healthcare industry, especially amidst the middle of a global pandemic that has rocked the healthcare industry to its very foundation.

Healthcare providers are facing the double whammy of increased expenses and decreased revenue thanks to the cancellation of elective procedures and a drop in patient volume while also having to spend more on personal protective equipment and other expenses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

To compensate for the decreased revenue, many providers have been forced to lay off or furlough employees, which has put an even greater crunch on operations inside the office.

Here is the part where we get to talk about teaching someone to fish. With so many individuals lacking health insurance these days, it is likely that many of the patients walking through the doors of a healthcare provider is going to be on the hook for some or all of the bill when that visit or stay is over. The portion that the patient is responsible for — which is known as the self-pay portion — is an important piece of the revenue puzzle that providers will need to look at more closely. By being a little bit more proactive, providers can prepare individuals ahead of time for the likely expense and start the process of collecting payment well in advance, lessening the shock, frustration, and chasing that usually needs to be done.

How can a provider be proactive?

* By being better at communicating the estimated cost of a procedure or visit beforehand

* Using forecast tools to help assess a patient’s propensity to pay the bill

* Providing the right options that fit the patient’s financial position

Self-pay collection is a component of healthcare that is not going to go away and could become an even larger component of the revenue coming into healthcare providers than it is now. Providers need to focus on this area of their revenue cycle management to make sure they are not losing out now and in the future. Teach a patient to fish and you will not have to worry about your operation going hungry in the future.


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