Use it or lose it: help patients claim those end-of-year benefits

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 10:38 pm EST


Jana Franks, Senior Vice President and GM of Elavon's healthcare business, Elavon

With 2018 just around the corner, most of your patients are likely focused on the holidays, but since many insurance companies reset benefits in the new calendar year, you’ll want to help your patients claim their 2017 benefits before they lose them for good.

In addition to potentially losing out on 2017 benefits, patients may also experience changes in their healthcare benefits in the new year. These changes may take the form of higher premiums, higher deductibles and/or less coverage — all of which increase the financial challenges facing today’s healthcare consumer. So, what can you do to help your patients pay for out-of-pocket costs and ensure their financial obligations don’t become your bad debt?

Make a resolution now to focus on your patient financial engagement practices. Here are some tips and industry best practices to get you started.

Leverage payment technology. Modern payment processing technology makes it easier than ever to engage with patients and collect payment, as well as gain valuable data insights and analytics. Start by providing your patients with eligibility and cost estimates up front whenever feasible. Next, be sure to offer convenient, easy and flexible options for making payment. After all, if expectations about payment and available payment options are not being communicated up front, the odds of collecting will likely decrease. Elavon’s state-of-the-art healthcare payment solutions feature capabilities and technology that can help with all this, allowing you to offer your patients the flexibility of paying with debit or credit cards, check, eCheck/ACH or cash. We also make it easy for patients to pay through their preferred method — point-of-service (POS), phone, online, kiosk and mobile/tablet — also known as omni-channel. Our processing solutions can help you track activity, access performance reporting and create payment plans that work for your customers. 

Educate and empower staff. Make sure your staff knows how to tactfully ask for payment through training, recognition programs, and individual and department performance reporting. To get the best training experience, management experts recommend job shadowing as well as role playing and preparing scripts, so they know exactly what to say and become comfortable having those conversations. Ensuring your staff’s efforts are recognized and acknowledged can help solidify the behavior and encourages them to continue in the right direction. Leader boards, organizational announcements and ecards are great ways to reward your staff. Finally, performance reporting confirms everyone is on the same page and lets your staff see improvement and take ownership of their progress. Set goals and metrics and regularly discuss progress together.

Get staff engaged and energized.Once your staff is properly trained in communicating with patients for payment and the technology used to collect those payments, keep them engaged and energized with the process. Since your front-line staff works with patients directly, it helps for them to know that any changes to the payment process are ultimately better for the patients, so that they can feel good getting behind them. Part of patient-friendly billing is also making sure your staff understands and explains how easy it is make payments and even set up a payment plan. By giving your staff the tools to make the sometimes confusing and stressful process of healthcare payments simple and easy for patients, staff motivation increases as they feel like they are making a difference.

Use these simple tools and strategies to get the whole office behind helping patients use their end-of-year benefits and collect associated payments. Not only will this boost your bottom line, but you will also be supporting your staff and patients during one of the busiest times of the year.

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About the author:Jana Franks is the Senior Vice President and GM of Elavon's healthcare business. She has 20 years of experience in developing and launching new technology solutions across the payments, healthcare, software and telecommunications industries. Jana holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado and has achieved New Product Development Process (NPDP) certification by the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA). She gives back to her community as a volunteer teacher at Junior Achievement of Georgia, an organization focused on economic, education and workforce development.

Elavon’s Media Contact:

Cara Crifasi 
Corporate Communications 
+1 303-268-2412

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