There is a mountain of paperwork involved for a patient to flow through your medical practice properly. From new patient registration to sending out balance statements, each paper form requires time, money, and effort to produce. Paperless organizations reduce not only their environmental impact but also inefficiencies. Consider the following example:
ABC Dermatology Clinic employs three providers, who each see an average of 20 patients per day. Each provider works 48 weeks and sees a total of 4,900 patients in a given year. At the end of the year, the clinic sees 14,700 patients among the three providers.
According to MGMA, practices need to send approximately 3.3 billing statements before a patient’s outstanding balance is paid in full. Based on annual volume, ABC Dermatology Clinic would have to send 48,150 balance notices. It is vital for clinics to reduce the number of statements, as the cost can add up quickly.
Since the average dermatology clinic spends approximately $2 per statement, ABC Dermatology Clinic incurs $97,020 in expenses for statements. The costs derive from a combination of expenses related to paper, ink cartridges, labor, stamps, envelopes, and reply envelopes.
By reducing this cost, you free up a portion of the operating budget for use to grow the practice. So, how do we decrease this cost?
Begin by creating an infrastructure that eliminates paper and mailing statements with substitute workflows. For successful mass adoption, your patient population needs to receive education and direction on the steps you want them to perform. Clearly articulate the instructions in unassuming terms. Regardless of age, knowledge, or technological aptitude, the recipient should easily understand the instructions and have numerous opportunities to opt-in.
As you brainstorm the structure for your practice, we listed five recommendations to help get started:
- Leverage features from your electronic health records and practice management software. Upload balance statements and request payment via a HIPAA-secure online portal.
- Offer online bill pay and educate patients on how to pay their balance. Include clear instructions on your website. Train staff members to inform patients of this option.
- Create e-signature PowerForms through DocuSign and establish paperless intake forms. Attach the PowerForms link to reminder notifications and on your practice’s website.
- Collect 100% of the patient’s responsibility for surgeries upfront. It is better to offer patients a refund than write-off debt. You may receive resistance from patients on this goal. Keep staff committed to the initiative, and it will become the new normal.
- Run real-time insurance eligibility checks for every patient before every visit.