In an article for Optometry Times, Dr. Justin Bazan, owner of Park Slope Eye in New York City's Brooklyn neighborhood, detailed how his office operates almost completely phone-free. This strategy won't work for every practice, but Bazan's reasoning is sound. He realized phone calls interrupted the patient experience, taking providers and other staff away from the people standing directly in front of them. Additionally, every call cost his practice money. In an industry where expenses are at an all-time high and collections are increasingly volatile, Bazan knew he had to cut costs wherever possible.
Specialty practices should consider how phone calls are impacting their patient experiences and their bottom line. Do you know how many calls your practice receives each month, and how much they cost? By reviewing your call frequency and duration, you might find every time someone answers the phone costs your practice as much as $20 in lost productivity and overhead expenses. Instead of spending time answering basic questions— the reason for most phone calls—your staff can attend to more patients, investigate payment issues and perform other tasks that increase revenue.
Accepting more payments and fewer calls
At first glance, it may seem that reducing phone calls would reduce the number of ways patients can pay and thereby diminish revenue. However, those phone calls, even the ones that collect payments, cost your practice money. The trick is to find a way for patients to pay to their balances without picking up the phone. Using an online payment portal, especially one that is mobile-friendly, accomplishes both objectives while simultaneously providing so much more.
To understand just how beneficial an online portal can be, consider the story of one MedEvolve client that initially averaged 605 calls per month. After implementing an online payment portal, the volume of calls dropped to 390 per month–that’s a decrease of 35 percent. What’s more, because fewer payment-related inquiries tied up the phone lines, the practices’ staff was able increase the number of answered calls by 12 percent.
Patients want options
Patients are becoming responsible for more of their medical expenses. According to InstaMed's Annual Trends in Healthcare Payments Report, 74 percent of practices saw their patient's payment responsibilities increase in 2015. Unfortunately, most providers reported it takes at least a month to collect these payments, and many did not receive the full balance due at the outset.
As more people turn to the technology when it comes to managing their daily lives, providers must get onboard—and online—if they wish to collect more of their patient balances. The Annual Trends report also noted the amount of healthcare payments submitted online via mobile device has dramatically increased from 2 percent in 2011 to 18 percent in 2015. Through an online patient payment portal, providers can design payment plans, schedule automated payments and offer a multitude of payment options all integrated with their practice management (PM) system.
Bring an online payment portal into your practice, and you might find your phone calls cut in half. Your practice will save tremendously, and patients will have an easier, faster way to settle their balances.