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3 strategies for collecting medical payments

Creativity, technology and a patient-centered approach are important factors in collecting medical payments, according to Jim Cagliostro, clinical operations performance improvement expert at VIE Healthcare Consulting.

Three strategies he recommended:

1. Provide multiple payment methods. Traditionally, organizations allow patients to pay by mail or phone. To modernize the process, providers should consider using online payment portals or smartphone apps. "The fact remains: the more options you give to patients to pay their bills, the more bills that are going to get paid, and the more bills that will be paid on time," Mr. Cagliostro said.

2. Offer and explain payment plans. To improve collections, counsel patients to help them find and understand a payment plan that works for them. Some hospitals even give discounts to patients who pay early or on time. "Many patients … are facing a huge financial crisis as a result of their health crisis," Mr. Cagliostro said. "Be their advocate in terms of helping them pay their bill."

3. Keep patients in the loop. Whether an organization outsources collections or keeps the process internal, patients should be part of the conversation. "Let's keep patients at the center by picking up the phone [and] calling them before it gets to that point," Mr. Cagliostro said.

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