Medical practices and price transparency haven’t exactly gone hand in hand in the past. With complex reimbursement systems and the real need to focus on other tasks, practices have not always been up front with patients when it comes to revealing the payment due until long after the service is rendered.
Today’s patients, however, are clamoring for more information, more education and more transparency. Granted, this can require a shift in procedures and a fresh approach to doing business, yet there are many opportunities to enhance transparency before the patient ever sets foot inside your practice, not to mention a variety of benefits for all parties. From pre-visit financial clearance to appointment calls, from scheduling reminders to initial in-person interactions, transparency around payments can set the right tone well ahead of time for your patients. Your practice also benefits, as a more informed patient offers a higher probability of payment.
Information on pricing is now available to patients online (see, for example, https://www.healthcarebluebook.com/), but it is often confusing and can be inaccurate. Take matters into your own hands by integrating these strategies in your practice to enhance transparency when it comes to pricing:
When a patient receives a surprising bill a month or six weeks following an appointment, it can create panic, frustration, and/or confusion, particularly if the individual is not presently prepared to pay the bill in full. This can lead to non-payment and no-shows in the future, creating a vicious cycle that benefits no one.
On the other hand, greater transparency in pricing can build both trust and loyalty, while also bolstering communication, and ensuring more positive relationships and payments for years to come. When you focus on being more transparent in pricing and payment requests, your patients may be thanking you.
Elizabeth Woodcock is the founder and principal of Woodcock & Associates. She has focused on medical practice operations and revenue cycle management for more than 25 years. She has led educational sessions for a multitude of national professional associations and specialty societies, and consulted for clients as diverse as a solo orthopaedic surgeon in rural Georgia to the Mayo Clinic. She is author or co-author of 17 best-selling practice management books, to include Mastering Patient Flow and The Physician Billing Process: Avoiding Potholes in the Road to Getting Paid. Elizabeth is a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives and a Certified Professional Coder. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University, she completed a Master of Business Administration in healthcare management from The Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a doctoral student at the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University.
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