'Same day' means less time to collect

There is not only less time to collect the patient's out-of-pocket responsibility if a service is scheduled for the same day; there's also less time for the patient to make an informed decision if needed, says Jennifer Nichols, director of patient access at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI.

If a particular patient has a $50 copay at an in-network location, but has a $500 out of pocket at an out-of-network location, for example, that information is important for the patient to know.

"Staff should be given the tools and taught to provide this information," Nichols says.

With same-day scheduling, the challenges of collection typically are related to the amount of patient responsibility, says Nichols. "Our mechanisms for accepting payment are the same. But if the patient responsibility is large, it may not be something the patient is able to pay the same day," she explains.

Spectrum Health provides average charges on its website for its most common procedures. "We also provide a custom out-of-pocket calculator to determine patient liability for Spectrum Health patients with Priority Health coverage," says Nichols. "This takes into account current statuses of things like out-of-pocket maximums."