The Importance of Compassionate Patient Collections in Today’s Healthcare Landscape

Understanding goes a long way when it comes to collecting payments. Here, we explain what compassionate patient collections are all about.

Where do you believe the most compassionate area of your healthcare practice lies? For many healthcare providers, patient care is undeniably the most compassionate area. It is critical that medical professionals provide empathy in the patient room. However, there are other areas where compassion can make a difference too. This is where compassionate patient collections come in.

Yet, when it comes to back-office operations, compassion can often take a backseat. When payment isn't received as expected, healthcare practices may quickly send the patient to collections without taking the time for meaningful dialogue first.

Is Compassionate Patient Collections Still Suitable in Today's Healthcare Landscape?

Group of doctors discussing patient policies at work.

From the provider's perspective, these situations might come down to numbers — leaving little room for personalized care or understanding of individual circumstances. Is this approach still suitable in today's healthcare landscape?

  • Half of all U.S. adults struggle to keep up with their medical expenses. About four out of ten have had to postpone or forego necessary care due to cost. As medical expenses become more and more of a burden on patients, the patient collections process can often be overwhelming.
  • Healthcare providers try to provide accurate cost estimates. However, if someone's coverage plan changes or their insurer alters their policy, it becomes challenging to make sure the original estimate still holds true for the final bill.
  • The prevalence of high deductible health plans is contributing to a situation where 40 to 50% of patients' outstanding balances are left unpaid.
  • Some healthcare providers are forced to write off a significant portion of the debt they are owed, with some providers reporting write-offs of up to 80 to 90%.

It's no surprise that healthcare practices are striving to create a better collections experience for their patients. Taking the time to understand how patients perceive the collections process, rather than applying a universal approach, may be crucial in optimizing revenue cycle operations. Could providing more compassion when it comes to patient collections help people fulfill their monetary obligations? By taking an individualized approach and understanding each patient's position, we can promote healthier payment practices from both sides of the equation.

The Negative Impact of Aggressive Collections on Patients

When it comes to addressing medical financial obligations, striking the right balance between being firm and taking stock of your patients' welfare is key. Unfortunately, many collections practices are too aggressive and don't consider how damaging these tactics can be for those involved. Building an ethical collection strategy that both respects patients while netting desired outcomes should always be a priority. Here's what you need to keep in mind: 

  • Create consistent standards across all patient collection efforts
  • Make sure communication is direct yet polite at all times
  • Ensure transparency throughout the entire process 
  • Assess individual scenarios before making any decisions

The consequences of overly-aggressive patient collection practices can't be overstated. Patients may experience psychological distress due to their inability to pay off medical bills. Without proper attention paid to patient care during this process, some individuals could even face physical health issues resulting from the intense pressure they receive from the collections department. 

  • Aggressive patient collection practices may leave patients feeling ostracized and ashamed — possibly discouraging them from seeking medical help in the future.
  • Such aggressive tactics can lead to a decline in patient satisfaction and commitment toward health service providers.
  • When forced into such tight corners, some patients might turn to borrow money at high-interest rates. This is a move that could bring more damage to their financial standing.

For these reasons (and more), it’s important that any actions taken regarding medical financial matters should always prioritize patient welfare first and foremost. By maintaining this level of perspective when handling collections, both healthcare providers and patients will benefit greatly in terms of quality outcomes that place value on human dignity. 

The Benefits of Compassionate Collections Practices

Senior couple paying medical bills at home using a laptop - compassionate patient collections concept.

Compassionate collection strategies can be a win-win for both patients and providers. They offer numerous advantages that benefit both parties, from increased patient satisfaction to improved provider reputation in the community. For patients, compassionate collections practices create an atmosphere of understanding which leads to greater patient fulfillment.

In addition, offering clear explanations about bills helps ensure patients understand what they owe instead of leaving them confused or frustrated with unanswered questions. This approach also often results in better overall financial health since people feel supported when making payments rather than discouraged or overwhelmed by costly medical expenses.

Better Patient Experiences

By showing more compassion in your collections process, you show that you prioritize your patients over financial gain. This sends a positive message about how much you value them as patients. This, in turn, leads to greater loyalty from current patients and improved relationships with future ones.

Reduced Overdue Payments

A compassionate patient collections approach can decrease the amount of time it takes to receive payments by increasing accountability on both sides. Meanwhile, fewer late charges will bring down expenses related to collection efforts while still protecting revenue in the long term.   

Enhanced Financial Stability

Reducing nonpayment rates through compassionate patient collections processes helps ensure that funds are collected accurately and timely, so cash flow remains consistent. This results in improved financial stability overall for any given healthcare practice.  

The Benefits Go Beyond Finances

The most valuable advantage associated with embracing compassion when collecting unpaid medical bills? Improved morale across all levels of personnel involved — from the front office to upper management tasked with keeping the medical operations running smoothly without disruption.

Best Practices for Compassionate Patient Collections

When it comes to collecting medical payments, a little understanding can go a long way. With more patients being responsible for paying more of their own medical costs despite having insurance policies, this puts them in a difficult position. For independent practitioners not working with any particular insurance plan, it can be difficult talking about money with their patients. However, there's also an opportunity here for providers to create stronger relationships by approaching collections with compassion. Here's how you can do that:

Offer Multiple Payment Options

Patients should have a variety of options when it comes to making payments. This can include in-person, online, using cash, credit, or debit card, and even payment plans and financial assistance for those who qualify. This way they can choose what is most convenient for them. This, in turn, helps in increasing their satisfaction and boosting the practice's chances of successful payment collection.

Be Empathetic

Put yourself in the shoes of your patients. Start by understanding how difficult it can be for them to pay off a large medical bill all at once. Also, emphasize empathy when communicating with patients about payments or fees associated with late payments.

Offer Payment Plans

Offering payment plans to your patients removes one of the biggest barriers to collecting payment: financial hardship. Payment plans can be a win-win solution for both the practice and the patient. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly 90% of patients plan to pay their bills in full if they have flexible payment options.

Reevaluate Policies Regularly

Change is inevitable; always be aware of any new legislation or updates regarding patient collection practices. This way, you're not at risk of violating laws while trying to collect debts from your patients ethically and fairly.

A Solution for Prioritizing Compassion in Patient Collections

Compassionate patient collections - Female doctor using a tablet device to explain a senior woman’s medical bill.

Healthcare providers must find a balance between collecting what's owed and delivering outstanding care. They can achieve this through patient collections management that prioritizes both patient well-being and payment success. By understanding how important it is for your patients to feel comfortable when addressing payments, your healthcare practice can focus on compassionate collections with confidence — improving financial health without sacrificing the quality of service or straining relationships with those you serve.

That's why we offer compassionate and effective collections services that prioritize patient well-being while also collecting payments. Our solutions make the process hassle-free and ensure patients receive proper treatment and respect throughout every step of payment collection. With BillFlash, you gain access to an intuitive platform specifically designed for streamlined collections practices that put people first — no matter what their situation may be! Schedule a demo today!

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