Whenever a patient visits a rehab therapy private practice, the responsibility of collecting patient payment is considered to be a front desk requirement. While many do collect at time of service, others may find it difficult to ask for payment, even though the payment is the patient’s obligation. Here, we will explore a few tips that can facilitate conversations between rehab therapy staff and patients about payment expectations.
1. Educate Staff About the Payment Process
It is important to educate rehab therapy staff about why it is necessary to collect at the time of service. For example, as a provider, it is the owner’s responsibility to collect a co-pay from the patient, and the insurance company typically pays the difference, thus ensuring 100 percent of the contracted payment. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, physical therapists can accept both health care coverage insurance, as well as cash for their non-covered services, as long as the service is within the realm of the physical therapist’s practice.1
As a rule of thumb, patients are responsible for paying their co-insurance and/or deductible after the insurance has processed the claims and left a patient responsibility balance. If patients are still coming in for services, the front desk may be asked to collect those balances. If the patient cancels or no shows, the front desk is expected to collect the fee the next time the patient comes in.
2. Train Staff About Referrals, Authorization, Deductibles and More
According to Account Matters, a specialty RCM firm that specializes in therapy practices, referral and authorization management is taken care of by the front desk staff as well. Front desk employees are required to look at the insurance guidelines if a referral or authorization is required. The authorization or referral must be on hand upon the patient’s first appointment or the claim can easily be denied.2
Additionally, it is worth remembering that as far as deductibles and co-insurance are concerned, these are not required to be paid upfront. The patient can wait until the claim has been processed and the insurance carrier has left a “patient balance” to be paid by the patient.
3. Clearly Explain Payment Expectations to Patient
Private practice owners are encouraged to train front desk staff to ask for payments in a manner that is clear and easy to understand. For example, “How would you like to pay for your co-pay today?” is a question that can be posed that shows front desk personnel is open to accepting all forms of payment, whether by credit card, cash or check.
Forward Thinking PT, a website designed to promote thinking and improved methodology to physical therapists, also notes that approaching the patient with compassion at the time of payment is just as important. 3
3. Post Payment Signage in the Office
Posting signs in a PT office can help the front desk staff confidently ask for payments when the patient comes in. It can be a sign that is simple yet effective as “payment is due at the time of service.”
By setting up a clear and structured payments process that is understood by all, rehab therapists and physical therapists can ultimately spend more time with their patients and attend to their recovery needs.
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Get Paid On Time! 4 Tips for Rehab Therapists
Clear Communication Between Staff and Patients is Key
1American Physical Therapy Association, “Navigating Cash Payment,” August 1, 2018.
2Account Matters, “3 Reasons Why Billing Staff Relies On Accurate Information From the Front Desk,” July 18, 2018.
3Forward Thinking PT, “Improving Payment Compliance at Your Physical Therapy Practice,” September 28, 2018.