6 Practical tips for collecting payments in a volatile economy

Consumer confidence is up. This is the latest finding to come out of the consumer confidence index for the 3rd quarter of 2023. Of course, consumers spending more is good news for businesses, but it doesn’t mean we are in the clear yet, not by any means. 

The resounding message is that even though consumers are more willing to spend, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can afford to. As a medical practice, it’s important to be sensitive to the financial challenges faced by your patients. Many South Africans are struggling to make ends meet. That means that collecting payments from cash-strapped patients requires a delicate balance of empathy & practicality. 

So, how do you strike a balance between fair compensation for your practice & compassion for your patients? In this blog, we’ll explore 6 practical ways you can make it easier for patients to pay their bills & ensure the health of your practice’s finances.  

Establish clear financial policies

Transparent communication is the first step towards a smoother payment process. Communicate your practice’s financial policies to all patients, including expectations for copays, deductibles, & any upfront payments. Ensure that these policies are easily accessible on your website, appear on your electronic & paper-based forms & communications, & are prominently displayed in your office. 

Offer payment plans or installments

For some patients, making payment immediately may not always be possible. It makes more sense to be proactive when it comes to collecting from patients, rather than run the risk of running up bad debt &/or incurring the cost of handing them over to a collections agency. Consider offering patients the option of paying in installments or set up a structured payment plan. This approach alleviates the immediate financial burden on the patient & makes it more likely that you will get paid in full. 

Provide information about financial assistance

Share information about available financial assistance with your patients. Simply having information on hand from third-party FSPs can empower patients to take action to pay outstanding bills. Ensure that your staff are aware of these resources so they can guide patients effectively.

Offer discounts for prompt payment

Cost-conscious consumers might be spending more, but they are still looking for a good deal. Consider implementing a prompt payment discount policy. It’s a powerful incentive for patients who are able to make immediate payments or settle their bills within a shorter timeframe. It’s a win-win situation, not only does it encourage timely payments, but you are also providing relief for cash-strapped patients.

Communicate empathetically

It’s not always what you say but how you say it. Money is a tricky subject, & it can be embarrassing or tough to admit to financial difficulties. Train your staff to approach conversations about outstanding payments with empathy & understanding. Ensure that they take the time to ask open-ended questions to gain insight into the patient’s situation & work with the patient to find solutions that benefit both parties.

Consider offering online payment options

Offering a variety of convenient payment options is another practical way of ensuring you collect from patients. Patients don’t typically carry cash; they might forget their wallets at home, or they are unable to visit your practice in person to make payment. Offering cardless payment options such as Snapscan is a smart way to make it easier for patients to pay on time & in full.

Finally, remember that any good patient collections process is supported by the right technology partner who understands the importance of real-time benefit checks, claims submission, & invoicing. These are all tools that help you & your staff open communication & balance the financial health of your practice with the challenges faced by cash-strapped patients. 

For more information about how you can implement these practical tips to ensure fair compensation & compassionate patient care in economically demanding times, contact Healthbridge at sales@healthbridge.co.za. They have been helping private practices to ensure that their patients have access to the care they need, regardless of their financial situation, for over 20 years. Get in touch today & take the next step in ensuring your practice’s success.