What can your practice learn from Starbucks?

Medical Billing Starbucks

What can your practice learn from Starbucks?

You’ve got to be thinking, “How does he get to Starbucks from medical billing?” – He’s out of his mind!

Please hang with me here for a moment, I promise it will be worth your while.

Starbucks recently launched an application that lets customers purchase goods with their Android smartphones. The company already has similar applications for BlackBerry, iPhone and iPod touch.

These applications allow customers to load their Starbucks loyalty card accounts, check card balances and find stores nearby, and it also notifies customers of promotions and other discounts.

In addition to these conveniences, they are also launching mobile payment options for customers frequenting over 1,000 Starbucks within Safeway Supermarkets nationwide.
They already offer similar programs in over 1,000 Target store locations as well as 6,800 of their own locations.

Wow, talk about giving the customer some easy payment options.

“The expansion of our mobile payment footprint has been driven by customer interest and input. With the addition of Starbucks for Android to the Starbucks app line-up, a Starbucks mobile payment app may now be used on approximately 90 percent of smartphones currently in use,” said Adam Brotman, VP, general manager, digital ventures at Starbucks Coffee Co.*

To think all of this started over 25 years ago, when a cup of coffee generally cost $.75 and Starbucks was charging $1.50! Suffice it to say they had to change “product” expectations.
They did it by providing an effortless and unique experience.

Granted buying a latte is a bit different from buying medical services – one is a leisure purchase and one could be termed a “maintenance” purchase. The purchase mind set is very different.

Surprisingly, the payment experience doesn’t have to be.

As we have considered the practice payment “logjams” over the past 30 years we see definite patterns that, in this day and age of increased patient responsibility, can adversely affect patient A/R.

Patient responsibility is increasing at a rate of 10% annually meaning that insurance payer responsibility is decreasing by 10% annually. It would seem that the simple solution is to notify patients that they are responsible for payment and everything will continue “business as usual”.

Not so fast. Statistics show that collecting from patients is two and a half times more work intensive than collecting from payers! I’ll repeat that one more time as it appears on your staffs’ timesheets, for every hour your practice spends collecting from insurance or health plan networks they will spend on average 2.5 hours collecting fro
m patients. (Something you may have already experienced.)

Now just think what that additional time against does to your practice overhead not to mention how the interim patient A/R is affected. The cost is a double hit before any money is even in the door. It becomes painfully clear that this is not a singular issue but rather a domino effect, zero-sum game.

Enter the Starbucks customer convenience model. It is the pivotal point of any successful business – getting the money in the door!

When we adjust our business perspective and think of practices as retailers (from a financial aspect) we can begin to manage customer (patient) expectation in a very different way.

As Adam Brotman, Starbucks VP, General Manager, cited earlier their actions were taken directly as a result of customer interest and input. Intel! It’s a great place for every practice to get a clear picture of its strong points as well as areas it can improve.

I would recommend that every practice develop a financial survey for every patient to fill out at the office or on-line at the practice website. From patient answers you will be able to develop actionable and empathetic payment options for your patients. You will likely receive an answer for every conceivable payment option possible. The great thing about these options is that they are easily sorted and categorized into finite actionable solutions.

Actionable solutions are where CRT Medical Systems excels. We are launching comprehensive services ranging from new patient payment options for your practice, to reducing denials and improving claims efficiencies, to increasing collections rates. While all of these services are available a la carte they are most effective when employed in concert. This is another area that CRT Medical Systems provides your practice with many great options. We have three models to offer your practice:

• First and most comprehensive is our Full Management Medical billing service, CRT Medical Systems becomes your complete billing department solution.

• Second is our Hybrid Management Medical Billing Service is a combination of our Full Management solution services and giving our clients access to the system so they can perform certain billing functions themselves.

• Third is our ASP (Application Service Provider) or Online Billing Software CRT Medical Systems offers the Online Billing solution as the first line of improving productivity and profitability. While this is exactly like having your own computer billing system in-house, it offers many more advantages.

All of these options have an inherent 30 years of billing expertise and even offer a patient call center staffed by professionals who understand how to deal with financially stressed patients.
These professionals establish patient and practice dialogues that can specifically address any patient concerns when it comes to payment responsibility.

In the end the patient is educated and well informed and the doctor can minimize the affect of new patient financial responsibility on the practice. The net result is a happy patient and a happy doctor.

CRT also offers the InstaMed system allowing your practice to verify patient coverage prior to the visit. It also allows patients the opportunity to use customized payment plans eliminating the angst, and reluctance at the root of patient A/R issues. Taking steps to make the insurance coverage status transparent eliminates surprises and helps manage patient expectations. While patients in general may not like paying, making payment easier is a game-changing asset reducing the pain patients feel in their bank accounts.

At the same time CRT never rests when it comes to improving billing and claims efficiencies.
In this never ending evolution we are continually searching for the most expedient and informative method of filing or re-filing claims. We have seen dramatic reduction in denials with our newest process over the past 60 days and when there is a denial we immediately know why. It may not sound like big news but this intelligence eliminates generations of redundancy with the insurance claims maze of information technology.

Armed with the time sensitive denial intel we can then take action to correct the information and resubmit claims immediately – or we can contact the practice and advise accordingly.
Either way the processing time is dramatically reduced. The net learnings on each case are applied to the CRT/Practice relationship to further increase efficiency and increase payment.

The benefit is a much shorter payment cycle.

Finally we go even deeper when it comes to collections; CRT Medical Systems has a new service called PAR. Designed to help minimize rapidly accumulating patient A/R. With all of the intelligence aggregated from our initial steps in the process including insurance validation, payer contributions and claims rejections CRT can approach the patient in a manner that helps inform and educate them when it comes to their financial responsibilities. We all know that an educated and relaxed patient is easier to deal with than an uneducated and emotionally charged patient – particularly when it comes to financial operations.

What could be better for your practice than decreased payment cycles, happy patients and most important an incredibly improved collections rates? If we work together and continue to apply our learnings, we might all be able to afford more lattes!

Please start by visiting www.crtmedical.com or calling me, David Doyle @ 248.679.1700. We’ve been in this business for over 30 years and we can help you develop a great practice all while helping you do what you always wanted to do – be a great doctor.

CRT Medical Systems is the largest medical billing company in Michigan. It is also one of the oldest having flourished in the industry for over 30 years.

Starbucks logo is a registered trade mark of the Starbucks Coffee Corporation.

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