The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) released its first Digital Payment Progress Report earlier this year, providing U.S. healthcare finance managers with a detailed look at patient payment preferences and behavior. The report surveyed 761 MGMA member organization representatives at hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers — 61 percent in management, 28 percent in executive positions and 63 percent with more than 10 years of revenue cycle management experience — on attitudes toward patient billing and includes findings from the 2017 Patient Payment Checkup conducted by MGMA and Navicure. The comprehensive study reveals healthcare payment trends and leading technologies while offering strategies to improve the revenue cycle.
Tools for Healthcare Finance Managers
As a “premier association” for leaders in the healthcare industry, MGMA provides over 40,000 members with a platform for education, certification, networking and advocacy. Practice resources include white papers, blog articles, unique surveys, a career center and more. Professionals can further develop individual skills and knowledge at MGMA’s upcoming conferences: MGMA Annual Conference, MGMA18 Operations Conference and MGMA18 Financial Conference.
Today, patients demand a simple and convenient payment process with multiple payment options.
According to the 2017 Patient Payment Checkup, 23 percent of patients believe their medical bills are paid within one month. MGMA members reported 52 percent of patients taking more than three months to pay balances in full and 26 percent taking up to six months.
Of those surveyed, patients overwhelmingly requested clarity in balances due, with 56 percent planning to ask for cost estimates for future services. Currently, 69 percent of hospital respondents and 79 percent of ambulatory organization respondents can provide cost estimates upon request. Among ambulatory businesses, 77 percent can produce cost estimates before the time of service. To meet demand and remain competitive, healthcare finance managers can establish a timely cost estimates system.
Increasingly, patients want to pay off balances online over an extended period of time. Of the organization respondents that are incorporating online bill pay, 27 percent offer payment via the company website or an online portal, 22 percent offer payment plans and or automatically charge patient accounts and 35 percent allow patients to make down payments. MGMA advises healthcare organizations to keep patient credit card information on file for one-time charges of $200 or less. This will automatically reduce the amount owed while accelerating the payment process. In addition, storing email addresses to electronically deliver bills can encourage patient payments.
Despite a growing preference for electronic payments, traditional processes such as phone and mail persist with 29 percent of patients and 28 percent of organizations preferring check payments. Furthermore, 77 percent of MGMA members currently mail paper bills.
Simplifying the Collections Process
Healthcare finance managers can implement MGMA’s tips to maintain positive patient relationships and encourage full compensation for services. Signing with a top performing debt collection agency will allow healthcare organizations to meet collection goals while focusing resources on providing quality care.
Optio Solutions is an established debt collection agency with expertise in healthcare industry collections. With the latest technology, successful approaches to data security and a strong dedication to compliance, Optio specializes in:
- Claims Follow-Up
- Secondary Insurance
- Patient Balances
- Third-Party Liability
- Extended Business Office
- Payment Monitoring
- Pre-Collection Programs
- Billing Services Division
Organizations interested in external collections or those looking to replace an existing agency can contact Optio today to learn more.