Pre-service is almost a buzzword lately; we’re hearing it a lot. And no wonder. Hospitals that add pre-service observe dramatic improvements in their billing interactions. What is pre-service and what can your busy hospital or health organization team do about it?
What is Pre-Service?
Pre-service is basically just that: someone calling on behalf of the hospital or doctor’s office before the patients’ appointment or service. The module of pre-service can include any of the following items:
- An estimation of his/her costs owed at the time of the visit, or to be billed later and what their payment options will be
- Confirming the patient’s appointment time
- Helping him or her with parking directions and once there, walking directions to the office or waiting room
- Explanation of insurance benefits and what is covered or not by his or her insurance
- Answering any other non-medical questions to help the patient have a good experience
Why Pre-Service Makes a Difference
Pre-service is a way of setting expectations. So often the business of healthcare becomes so focused on two things: either the doctor’s interaction (medical) or the billing (business). But what’s lost in there is customer service, something people expect from other companies but do not find in overworked hospital or health staff. Toss in the confusion of insurance and how things work and it’s a small wonder that people find surprise medical bills, split bills, or bills they cannot pay. Patients tend to arrive at appointments without any idea of their out-of-pocket responsibility. Yet studies show patients want this information: 92% of consumers want to know payment responsibility prior to a provider visit.
Adding customer service to the mix in the form of the simplest things, such as how to find the right parking, improves the patient’s overall feeling about the visit. Studies have shown pre-service improves the pay rate.
The pre-service time is also an opportune moment to discuss patient payment options. As an organization it is good to know whether the patient can pay in full, within 6 months, or if it will need to be sent to a patient financing company for extended terms.
Most community hospitals don’t have the staffing or process in place to counsel patients on what is required of them financially. One study shows that “83 percent of Physician Practices under five practitioners said the slow payment of high-deductible plan patients are their top collection challenge, followed by the difficulties that practice staff have at communicating patient payment accountability (81%).” (Source: Black Book™ 2017 Revenue Cycle Management Survey.)
We and our partner company, Professional Recovery Consultants, are offering a pre-service solution as well as patient financing. Our goal is to educate and counsel the patient as soon as the procedure has been scheduled — long before he or she arrives at the hospital. This education begins with our staff of highly experienced counselors, who will reach out to patients and go through a list of each hospital’s expectations. The education could include everything: where to park, a location map, and hospital financial policies. Our staff will then review the patient estimated amount and counsel patients on each hospital’s internal payment policies. We can discuss prompt pay discounts, minimum monthly payments, and the length of payments.
Patients who arrive at the hospital ready and armed with financial knowledge feel make it easier for busy medical staff to focus on the important part: quality care. They also end up with a better overall experience because they must spend less time at the entry point before heading to the clinical side of things.
If you’re ready to implement a pre-service or financial payment plan for your patients, call us to get started: 866-574-0778.