The Purchase Funnel is a consumer-focused marketing model, which illustrates the theoretical customer journey toward the purchase of a product or service. As a Medical Practice that provides a service to a patient, but a third party pays for that service, thus complicating payment, then becoming a faithful follower of these Purchase Funnel steps will ensure a clear flow toward Adjudication.
Let’s examine the Purchase Funnel of a common Medical Practice.
Have A Clear Financial Policy (Awareness)
Having a clear financial policy provides a mutual understanding of the agreement between the Practice and the Patient. When a patient signs the agreement, they agree that they understand the business expectations of the practice. Your practice is a business, let’s keep that in mind. You have financial obligations that need constant attention such as; the rent, insurance, your staff, the lights and the internet, and most certainly a paycheck for YOURSELF.
Your Clear Financial Policy should include things like: You (the patient) agrees to allow the clinic to contact you on any and all numbers provided to the clinic. It should also state that You (the patient) accepts to take calls from an Automated Dialer. More on this later when I discuss Writing Off Accounts to Bad Debt.
And last but not least; You Must collect email addresses, they are valuable! Here is a great post from InboundMD on the importance of email collection and marketing. If you are interested in obtaining a Clear Financial Policy, like the one we share with our clients, please leave your email in the sidebar of this page:
The Collection of Accurate Demographic Data (Consideration)
If you’re sending patient statements to John Smith at 123 Main Street, but he moved from that address a month ago, you now have a compounded problem. First, you’re likely spending a dollar (between the envelope, the statement, and the time involved) to send that statement to the wrong address. Then, the balance you would have collected from John Smith, goes unpaid. Lastly, if John doesn’t come back and you’ve not contacted him, you’ll likely send the account on to bad debt. If the bad debt agency were to collect, then you’re likely paying, in the neighborhood of 40% to the agency for its efforts.
If you’re struggling with your staff with getting them to collect accurate demographic data, this previous article may help.
Oh, and let’s not forget the Time Value of Money.
The money you get now is worth more than the exact amount you would get in the future. If you want to learn more about the Time Value of Money, here is a great explanation.
Obtaining Eligibility and Filing The Claim to the Correct Insurance Payer (Research)
Does the patient have Medicare, or Medicare Advantage? Do they have Blue Care or Covered Kids? This can be very easily confused, and happens all the time. And what does it do, but slow down your money! If Medicare is the insurance presented, but unbeknownst to the patient, it’s really a secondary, and we’re putting our faith in the front desk staff to decipher this, we’re going to be let down on occasion. Here is a good post to help recognize the difference.
Insurance Claim Filed or the Patient Pays for the Services Rendered (Purchase)
After determining the patient does indeed have coverage, and the insurance will pay for the types of procedures the provider could potentially render, you see the patient. This is so important because, a providers time is valuable and its finite. You can only see a certain amount of patients in a day. If the provider sees a patient who has not been properly vetted in this manner, and has insurance that will ultimately not pay, you have lost money, because you have lost time. That time could have been spent with a patient whose insurance would have paid, rendering a Double Whammy!
The Front Desk Staff can make or break your business
The front desk position is vital, and a significant investment should go into filling it. They are the face of your organization. The patient experience can be both positive and negative based on the interaction they have with the patient., At our billing agency, we’ll even go as far as to help train the front desk to become proficient at recognizing the various payers, how to ask for payment, and make sure they completely understand the insurance process.
Perfecting these 4 processes will ensure the 4th stage of the Purchase Funnel is realized.
Develop a Consistent Statement Process
Our Practice Management Software, places each patient in a specific ‘cycle’ based on their last name and their date of registration. This automation simplifies the statement process. It allows the statements to go out in a consistent manner. If you’re in cycle 1, your statement is sent out during the first week of the month. Cycle 2, goes out the second week, and on and on. This eliminates the ‘peaks and valleys’ in your patient revenue.
TIME is the enemy of Patient Balance Collections.
If you’re not consistent with your patient statements, the collectability of Patient Revenue drops. Inevitably, if it’s been 3-4 months since you last saw the patient, the patient tends to ‘forget’ they were there. Maybe the patient moved, or changed their phone number. Maybe their health has improved and paying their bill is now, shall we say; ‘lower on the priority list’. Don’t let these variables hurt your revenue. Automate your statements, be consistent, and in a year’s time you’ll look up at your patient revenue, and see that it doubled.
Writing off to Bad Debt Collections
It’s a shame to have to send anyone’s account to a collection agency. Not only for the patient, but for the provider as well. That said, there are patients who knowingly take advantage of the system, and as a sole proprietor, you have to price this into your overall revenue.
As I mentioned earlier about having the ‘Automated Dialer’ verbiage in your Clear Financial Policy is because collection agencies use automated dialers. If the patient signed the Financial Policy that clearly states they are aware they can be contacted through the use of an Automated Dialer, not only does it protect you, but it also makes your account to the collection agency more appealing. This could be used to negotiate a better rate with the collection agency.
Text and Email
In the future, most bills will be paid by contacting the patient through a mobile number, an email, or both and offering them a simple path to pay their bill. It will get them to click on a link that was sent to them via email or text. Then, through a secure portal, it will allow them to make their payment and even set up a recurring payment plan. For them to allow this though, you need be upfront and have the correct verbiage in your Clear Financial Policy, which they have signed off on. Your clearinghouse, EMR vendor, or billing company may not have this capability yet, but in a few years, it will be the normal course of business.
Make your Purchase Funnel clear and concise so the simplest, most old-school patient can easily understand it. By doing so, it’s bound to help your practice’s revenue grow, exponentially.