How To Do A Proper Financial Report of Findings
Posted on December 13, 2018 by Holly Jensen
In my 15 plus years of experience with the chiropractic profession as a chiropractic assistant, office manager, and trainer to thousands of chiropractic offices across the country, one topic that always comes up is how to best communicate with patients when it comes to how they pay for their care. AKA how to do a proper financial report of findings.
Some of us are well versed when talking about money with our patients, while some of us feel uncomfortable and do our best to avoid the subject. When you fail to address a patient’s financial obligations to your office, it could lead to patient dropout, disputes with patients, complaints to state boards, and even malpractice claim reports.
In this article, I’d like to focus on how to properly communicate with your patients during the financial report of findings. Not only will the tips I give you help you set the tone up front with the patient, but it will also ultimately result in your patients staying long term.
In addition, I’ll also be providing dialogue-based examples to go along with most of the points I talk about.
Outline your recommendations for care.
Before I get into how to talk about money or how to present a financial report, I must start by stating that it’s imperative that the doctor has done his/her job with the report of findings by outlining their recommendations for care and getting the patient to agree to the treatment plan.
Failing to do this will make it nearly impossible for you to enroll the patient successfully.
Get permission to talk about finances.
Once the patient agrees to the treatment plan, the doctor must get permission from the patient to discuss money, so you avoid creating the “here comes the sales pitch” feeling. This feeling can be easily handled by the doctor simply communicating to the patient like this;
“Mary, all we have left to do is to go over the cost of care. We can go over that with you today or on your next visit, which works best for you?”
Most of the time the patient will want to go over it at that moment. I can’t stress the importance of this step enough.
Warm up the patient.
Once you have the patient’s permission to talk about money, the doctor should warm up the patient and make the introduction for the assistant coming into the room to review the cost of care. The doctor should say something following;
“Mary, I’m going to have Amber come in and review our program with you. I want to let you know, you don’t have to do the payment plan that Amber reviews with you as we have other options, but I highly recommend that you use it, as it covers everything I recommended and will save you the most money.”
Now that the patient has agreed to care, has given permission to talk about money and has been warmed up to the CA coming in to go over finances, we can proceed.
In a private room, review the compliant financial report, pointing out the savings.
It would be best if you had a private area to discuss financial plans with the patient to ensure their privacy and keep them comfortable.
Likely they’re already in a private room for the clinical report of findings. DO NOT discuss this at the front desk. In my experience, it’s best to use a ‘matter of fact’ tone when outlining the cost of care.
You also want to keep it simple. The more details and numbers you start spouting off at the beginning of the conversation the more you will leave the patient feeling overwhelmed.
With your compliant financial report in hand, you’re going to stick to reviewing the total cost of care, point out any savings the patient will get by enrolling into the care plan and evaluate the payment options.
Here’s an example:
“Mary, I’m so glad the doctor found he could help you! Based on the doctor’s recommendations, we’ve outlined the following all-inclusive program of care. If you were to pay per visit, the total cost of care comes to $X. However, by enrolling in this program, it covers everything and saves you the most money.”
In this part of the dialogue, it is the right time to pause and get confirmation from the patient with a head nod.
Give payment options.
“Mary, we can take that total you see here, and you have three choices of how to pay. Our first option is monthly payments. Our second option, which most of our patients choose, is a down payment followed by smaller monthly payments. Finally, if you prefer, our third option is to pay in full. Mary, before I go any further through the plan, which of these options do you feel works best for you?”
You may wonder why I said,
“which most of our patients choose for the second option”
By giving your patient a choice, they don’t feel pressured. They appreciate the options and letting them choose. You’re able to easily create these types of financial reports using the Cash Plan Calculator. We also mention this because it’s the best option for committing them to care as well as making it easy to transition them to their next program of care. I’ll explain more in future articles.
Once the patient has chosen the payment option that works best for them, they’re committing themselves to the program.
Review how the program works, keeping it simple and address common questions.
Before reviewing the details of how the program works, I recommend handling the most common objections the patient may have. Typically people want to know what happens if they miss an appointment and what happens if they need to stop care early.
This part of the conversation may go something like this;
“Mary, I’m glad to hear you’ll be choosing option two. Before I review the details of the program let me answer the two most common questions we get from our patients. One is, what happens if you go on vacation and miss appointments. Rest assured you’re not going to lose that time. We will extend the program to allow you to make up those missed visits.”
Then for the second question,
“Mary, you can stop the program at any time. Just let us know, and we will prorate the plan for the care you’ve used. If you’ve paid us more than what you’ve used, we will happily issue a refund. If you’ve spent less, you would only pay the balance of the care you used, not the entire program.”
After you’ve addressed those two most common objections, then you can review how the program works before moving forward outlining the rest of the plan details.
Reviewing the payment policy.
Let the patient know that because they’re choosing a recurring payment option, that you require them to leave their billing information on file and their payment will be automatically deducted. (Be sure that you’re using a PCI DSS compliant program for storing billing information!)
Enroll the patient in the care.
Lastly, answer any final questions the patient may have, gather their billing details and enroll them in the program. Keep a signed copy of the financial report on file and give the patient a copy of their records.
We can now cross each item off the list below when it comes to doing a proper financial Report of Findings:
- Outline your recommendations for care.
- Get permission to talk about finances.
- Warm up the patient
- In a private room, review the compliant financial report, pointing out the savings.
- Give payment options.
- Review how the program works, keeping it simple and address common questions.
- Review the payment policy.
- Enroll the patient in the care.
You should find that when you follow the steps that I’ve outlined in this article, you will get more patients saying “yes” to care, ultimately increasing patient retention and increasing your overall collections and drastically decreasing those awkward financial conversations with patients.