Drafting a patient payment agreement and collecting fees is probably not your favorite part about running a behavioral healthcare practice, but it’s vital to your practice’s survival as a business. Clinicians often worry that business transactions with patients can interfere with their therapeutic alliance, while practice administrators know the clerical hassles of handling cash. Preparation is key, and having the following processes in place will position your practice for success.
1. Create a patient payment agreement outlining all fees that could possibly be charged to a patient
…and make sure the patient signs it! To increase awareness, include the most disputed policies in bold and require the patient’s initials on those specific points. A robust fee agreement clarifies to the patient what balances they may be responsible for, and the signature tells you they know it.
2. Have a separate patient payment agreement for processing credit cards
For hard to reconcile charges such as co-pays, co-insurance, and missed appointments, have a separate credit card fee agreement that gives your practice permission to charge the credit card on file automatically for anything that falls under patient responsibility. Normalizing the way your practice handles these patient responsibilities up front helps reduce the frequency and likelihood of future disputes or missed collections.
3. Include a clear policy in your patient payment agreement to handle accruing patient balances
Identify if/when treatment will be suspended until outstanding balances have been paid or a payment plan has been established. Setting clear boundaries (just like you would in your therapy sessions) in your business’ patient payment agreement is also key to the services your provide to patients.
4. Provide patient statements regularly
This will increase transparency and reduce billing calls into your practice. With Valant, statement batches can be created and available to the patients via their patient portal to save time and reduce printing and mailing costs.
5. Review patient balance reports weekly
Evaluate the number of patients with outstanding balances, the average number of days a balance is in accounts receivable, and your overall collections percentage using your practice management software (such as Valant’s reports). This weekly cadence will increase your practice’s accountability and ability to stay on ahead of potential cashflow problems.
Together with these best practices for your patient payment agreement, Valant’s billing and reporting can help you reduce your aging patient balances and accounts receivable.