As healthcare consumers become increasingly aware of the rising cost of treatment, the phrase “So, what’s it gonna cost me?” likely will take over the patient-provider conversation. Thanks in part to the Internet, individuals have more access than ever to information regarding treatment plans and average costs. Before a patient even walks into your practice, there’s a good chance he or she already has a perceived value of your services. So, throwing financial transparency to the wind could negatively impact patient satisfaction in a huge way—and that ultimately affects your bottom line. With that in mind, let’s dive deeper into the facets of financial transparency.

The State of Rehab Therapy Report Wood - Regular BannerThe State of Rehab Therapy Report Wood - Small Banner

Cost

First, let’s talk cost—and what that really entails—for physical therapy and healthcare services in general. According to this HFMA report, “To the patient, cost is the amount payable out of pocket for healthcare services, which may include deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, amounts payable by the patient for services that are not included in the patient’s benefit design, and amounts ‘balance billed’ by out-of-network providers.” And the amount a patient is willing to pay depends on his or her individual preferences, financial situation, and priorities.

Value

When it comes to personal priorities, every patient’s situation is different; cost and perceived value is a complex issue. That’s why transparency is fast becoming a crucial driver of healthcare consumerism. When you provide your patients with detailed financial information upfront, they’re able to make better-informed decisions about their care. Plus, they feel empowered to actually make those decisions—and in choosing to obtain care, they are truly buying into that care, both literally and figuratively. In turn, they become more engaged with your practice. As this PatientCo article highlights, “While providers have spent a great deal of time finding new ways to clinically engage patients in an effort to drive better cost and quality outcomes, few have considered the potential benefits of engaging patients financially.”

Timing

Timing is, well, everything. Providing financial transparency requires much more than simply mailing a bill for services provided. Patients expect clear communication upfront, along with a high level of customer service. Before you provide services to a particular patient, your front office staff should verify his or her benefits and inform him or her of any associated financial responsibility—whether that’s a copay, deductible, or coinsurance. As this HealthcareITNews survey found, “Just about all patients (95 percent) say it’s important to know the total cost of a medical procedure upfront, according to the national survey of 407 patients who used CarePayment payment programs. Nearly everyone (96 percent) also wants to understand their payment options before receiving medical care, the survey found.”

Providing your patients with this information before they come in for treatment allows you the opportunity to guide them through understanding the scope of treatment. “Today, if you can't provide this information upfront, you run the risk of losing patients to competitors who can provide accurate prices estimates,” explains this Advisory Board article. So, if you don’t offer accurate information upfront in the interest of engaging your patients, then you should at least consider doing so to benefit your business.


As I mentioned before, financial transparency isn’t about simply sending out bills. It requires a proactive approach and a significant amount of effort. But, as healthcare consumers become better educated about the true cost of their treatment—and more empowered to align their healthcare choices with their personal financial priorities—your practice should consider fostering this type of engagement from the get-go.

  • Live from the Direct Access Front Lines: The Story of Your Front Office Image

    articleOct 16, 2014 | 6 min. read

    Live from the Direct Access Front Lines: The Story of Your Front Office

    A self-referred patient walks into a PT clinic. Is this the start of a joke or a story with a happy ending? Well, that’s up to you. Your direct access marketing efforts will inspire patients to pick up the phone and dial your clinic. But then what? Your front office team is your direct access front line, and if they’re not prepared to interact with self-referred patients (i.e., those with no referral from another healthcare provider), then …

  • 4 Keys to Keeping a Steady Cash Flow Image

    articleMay 18, 2016 | 5 min. read

    4 Keys to Keeping a Steady Cash Flow

    As a private practice clinic owner, you’re probably familiar with the cold sweat-inducing struggle to keep a steady cash flow. Claims management muck-ups, inefficient processes, staff issues, and lack of insight into your clinic’s financial health can leave you feeling like you’re riding a revenue rollercoaster. So, whether you’re trying to maximize reimbursements , combat employee theft , or optimize patient payments , these four keys to maintaining a steady cash flow will help you even out …

  • Founder Letter: 3 Ways Your Practice is Losing Money Image

    articleMay 5, 2016 | 7 min. read

    Founder Letter: 3 Ways Your Practice is Losing Money

    Much like the patients you treat, your practice can appear healthy on the outside despite significant internal issues. And when those issues are money-related, the consequences can be deadly. If your practice already is in the red, you know you’ve got some pretty serious cash flow problems. But even if you’re in the black every month, you may still be washing dollars down the drain. While there are myriad ways your practice might inadvertently be losing revenue, …

  • What to Look for in a PT Biller Image

    articleJul 28, 2015 | 4 min. read

    What to Look for in a PT Biller

    In the words of American rock legend Tom Petty, “Good love is hard to find.” While I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Petty’s wisdom, I think some rehab therapy practice owners might say good employees are even harder to find. And that certainly applies in the billing department. After all, your clinic’s billing operation is crucial to its financial well-being. One bad hire could mean the difference between your clinic achieving private practice rockstardom and hitting rock bottom. …

  • Insurance Coverage Confusion: Why Uninformed Patients Lead to Unpaid Balances Image

    articleApr 17, 2017 | 5 min. read

    Insurance Coverage Confusion: Why Uninformed Patients Lead to Unpaid Balances

    People buy lots of products without truly understanding how they work. But unlike that automatic wine corker you impulse-bought from Brookstone last month, not every purchase comes with a 20-page instruction manual—or ends up working the way we imagined it would. For many consumers, that frustration definitely applies to the health insurance selection process. And that’s especially true for those who are new to the insurance market —for example, the millions of Americans who recently gained access …

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Reform: 5 Key Healthcare Forecasts for 2017 Image

    webinarJan 5, 2017

    Cloudy with a Chance of Reform: 5 Key Healthcare Forecasts for 2017

    Predicting the weather is tough—just ask any meteorologist who has called for sun on the day of a major downpour. Well, predicting the fate of the US healthcare system isn’t much easier—there’s a lot up in the air, after all. But, even without a healthcare equivalent of Doppler Radar, there are a few key trends that are sure to have a major impact on PTs, OTs, and SLPs in 2017 and beyond. And to keep your practice …

  • How to Discuss Medical Bills and Insurance with Your Patients Image

    articleApr 7, 2017 | 5 min. read

    How to Discuss Medical Bills and Insurance with Your Patients

    Buying health insurance is easier—and faster—than it’s ever been. Much like fast food, however, speedy convenience now can cause plenty of woe later. (For example, I’m betting a good portion of your patients purchased plans without even knowing how a deductible works for health insurance—let alone what their deductible actually is.) But as unpleasant as a post-taco-run stomachache can be, surprise medical bills are much more painful. I’ll take the #2 with the large deductible. Does this …

  • How the Affordable Care Act Impacts Patient Payment Collection Image

    articleMay 16, 2016 | 5 min. read

    How the Affordable Care Act Impacts Patient Payment Collection

    You take the good; you take the bad. You take ’em both, and you have healthcare reform. Like most government-led initiatives, healthcare reform in general—and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in particular—has inspired a lot of passionate debate. And that’s because, while it has expanded health coverage to millions of previously uninsured people (woo-hoo!), it also has given way to some less-than-positive consequences. One such effect: the trend toward increased patient financial responsibility (whomp, whomp). Out-of-Pocket Overload …

  • PT in the House: 6 Benefits of Running a Home-Visit Therapy Practice Image

    articleOct 20, 2017 | 7 min. read

    PT in the House: 6 Benefits of Running a Home-Visit Therapy Practice

    What if I told you there’s a physical therapy practice model that requires minimal investment, has a low operating cost, and is practically burnout-proof? What if I added that this model provides a steady flow of new clients and is well poised to meet the rehab needs of the Baby Boomer generation? It would almost be too good to be true, right? Well, this model exists, and since 2009, my partners and I have enjoyed all of …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.