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BLOG: Health care providers need to consider options offered by patient financing programs

Most health care practices have financial policies in place that require payment by cash, check or major credit card for out-of-pocket costs. However, in today’s economic environment, patients appreciate and have come to expect additional options from health care providers in the management of the cost of care. The addition of a patient financing program to a practice’s financial policy can help to ease these cost concerns.

Choosing the right patient financing program and adding it to a financial policy can be an effective way to help increase treatment acceptance, reduce time in accounts receivable and improve cash flow. Here are important considerations to use in the evaluation of patient financing programs.

Flexibility

Financial needs differ among patients, so a health care practitioners need to consider programs that offer a wide range of financing options to meet as many needs as possible. Programs that feature a revolving line of credit, which is subject to credit approval, provide an ongoing financial resource for patients to use when additional care is needed.

Ease of use ­

Consider the initial costs to patients. An option that features no annual fee will always be more attractive to patients. Programs that offer a quick application process, fast credit decisions and multiple processing options make the integration of the financing program at a health care practice easier. Make sure the company is able to respond with the information or service in a timely manner if questions arise. Some companies have customer service available 24/7 to help patients, as well as dedicated support personnel to ensure health care practices get the most from the patient financing program.

Delivery of payment

Evaluate when the health care practice will be paid. One of the biggest benefits of having financing available through a third-party is the practice will be paid for services quickly. Some programs can take as little as 2 days to pay the practice, not all programs are the same. Be sure to understand the program’s policy, which is subject to representation and warranties in agreement with participating providers.

Health care providers also need to consider how the payment is delivered. Look for a program that uses direct deposit into an authorized account. Ideally, dealing less with documentation and paperwork to get compensated is better.

Rob Morris, MBA, is vice president of marketing and new business development for CareCredit with more than 35 years of experience, including executive level marketing and sales positions with leading health care companies.

Disclosure: Morris reports he is a paid employee of CareCredit.