Whether you're cash based or accept insurance, the best strategy to improve collections is to provide a clear and concise physical therapy financial policy. Agreeing to these terms guarantees that each patient understands your policy and agrees to these terms prior to receiving services. While there is a clear link between a clear financial policy and improved patient collections , the real goal should be to increase patient satisfaction. Once the terms of engagement and the expectations for payment are clearly outlined, both the patient and Physical Therapist can comfortably more forward with the treatment plan.
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Run your Physical therapy private practice like a business!
When dining at a restaurant, there is no need for a financial agreement up front because there is no problem. People delay healthcare payments, and unless you're equipped with the right financial policy, you may ultimately lose revenue.
What's in a Physical Therapist financial policy?
A clear and executable policy for collecting patient payments is the backbone of a healthy physical therapy private practice.
- Your financial policy needs to strike a balance between clarity and compassion. If you've been historically lax on allowing slow pays or writing off bad debts, address this clearly, in writing. Find your weak points and address them proactively.
- Have a written patient agreement that clearly communicates expectations. This will help both you and your patients move forward in a sustainable way. And before you share your patient agreement, take the time to have it reviewed by a health care attorney to make sure you're covering all the bases.
- Build in a strategy to analyze progress at least annually, and more frequently especially in the beginning.Don't wait until frustration makes you want to walk away from private practice entirely, and if you're already overwhelmed, it might be time to hire a consultant and get some professional business input.
- Offer innovative patient payment solutions - Be ready to collect payments from your patients in methods that are convenient to them. This includes payment plans and financing.
A clear policy is the foundation of good patient relationships. Your patients wouldn't expect to only pay for half of their full tank of gas, or walk out of a store without paying for a cartload of groceries. Yet over time, it has become accepted to not immediately pay for health care. By having a clear policy that outlines expectations for payment will help your patients feel confident that they're equal partners in receiving the quality care that they've paid for.
- Your patient agreement needs to be clear, but comprehensive. You can use a template to help you get started, but make sure you personalize your policy so it still sounds like "you" to your patients.
- Train all staff to be financially literate. From the initial contact through discharge, every contact needs to feel confident and comfortable discussing the costs involved for service, understanding the policies, and asking for payment. Whether you choose to require payment at the time of appointment (reducing no-shows), at check-in (reducing walk-outs), or have a typical billing cycle (least cost-effective and highest uncollectibles), your patients will thank you for making the entire process completely transparent.
- Give your patients payment options. From phone payments to point-of-sale card swipe, Online Bill Pay and mobile payment apps, your patients are tech savvy and used to technology to pay their bills. By giving them options and reducing paper billing, your patients will better understand their physical service bill, and will be much more likely to pay it.