Advice for Collecting Patient Debt

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By Randy Phelps

As patients assume more responsibility for payments, healthcare providers will increasingly be looking at methods and procedures to improve their collection on debts.  Healthcare providers can improve their success by using technology to implement more ways for patients to conveniently make payments.

A recent report from the American Hospital Association found that 87 percent of healthcare providers surveyed reported increased bad debt and charity care as a percent of total gross revenue. And as a result of the Affordable Care Act, nearly 20 million newly insured patients will enter the healthcare system by 2014, assuming more and more responsibility for healthcare payments.

With this comes a potential increase in bad debt, which a recent report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated as being $49 billion a year.

By offering more ways for patients to conveniently make payments, such as paying online and via mobile devices, healthcare providers can work toward encouraging more patients to pay their bills, and on time.

The technology is available to introduce new and more patient-friendly and convenient payment channels, plus value-added services such as pre-funded accounts, where healthcare providers can receive what is in effect a "payment of good faith," encouraging patients to pay upfront for their upcoming treatments or procedures. All of this crucially contributes to a reduction in revenue-cycle management, ensuring that health providers are paid for their services in good time.

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