When it comes to selecting a hearing aid, patients like options. Options give them greater flexibility, a sense of control over the purchase, and the ability to choose a device that will best meet their particular needs.

Patients also like options when it comes to paying for care. So in addition to cash and credit cards, it makes sense to provide patients with the opportunity to pay with No Interest and Low Interest payment plans through a third-party financing partner. When cost becomes an issue, the No Interest and Low Interest payment plans give patients a way to get the level of technology or hearing help they need. Instead of having to pay a large lump sum up-front, patients can pay over time with a low monthly payment that easily fits into their budget.

If you’re considering a third-party financing program in your practice, here are a few important questions that will help you determine which company is best for you.

Do they offer a wide variety of payment plan options? Because financial needs differ from patient to patient, be sure the company you are considering offers a comprehensive range of payment plans. A program that offers No Interest plans as well as Low Interest extended plans will give your patients more choices. The bigger the menu or variety of options to select from, the more likely your patients are to find a plan that will fit their needs.

No Interest plans that allow the entire balance to be paid off during a specified time period (eg, 3-12 months) without incurring interest charges are particularly popular with patients. For patients who want a smaller monthly payment or more time to pay, some programs offer low-interest payment plans for up to 48 months.

Another point to consider is the type of credit plans the company provides. Are they revolving lines of credit or term loans? Term loans are for a specified amount and time period (like a consumer car loan). Revolving plans can be used by the patients for ongoing care or additional services without having to reapply each time they desire credit.

What about approval rates? It’s important to have a program that has a good track record when it comes to approving patients for credit. Because approval rates vary from company to company, make sure you inquire about the program you are considering. When you’re in a volume practice with little time to spare, you donˆt want to go through the process of completing a patient application only to have it turned down on a frequent basis.

For example, CareCredit®, Anaheim, Calif, has introduced a new feature called Pre-Approval that lets you know in advance if most patients will be approved for credit before their appointment. Different programs use different criteria to access credit worthiness, but most patients with a “pretty good” credit history should be approved for some level of financing. Also find out if the program you’re considering allows co-signers for patients who aren’t approved for financing on their own. This option can give patients another way to get care and also helps increase approval rates.

How do patients apply for credit and how long does the process take? Some programs offer faster processing times than others, so be sure to find out how the company you’re considering works. What steps are involved in the approval process? How do you apply for credit? Do you use an in-house terminal like consumer credit cards? Can you apply over the phone or online?

Some programs allow patients to secure financing in the comfort of their own homes before they even arrive at your practice. The more options available, the more convenient the program will be for you and your patients. Once an application is submitted, find out how long it will take to receive a response to the credit request. If the response time is too long, patients may change their minds. An excellent program is one that allows you to complete the application process while the patient is still in your office, so you can give them access to care as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, the CareCredit program provides you with the ability to have impressions in a patients ear, have them complete a short application, submit it, and 45 seconds later have an answer.

How will the practice be paid? One of the biggest benefits of offering third-party financing is that with many programs you get paid for your services up-front. But all programs are not the same and some can take as long as 14 days to pay the practice. Be sure to find out the policy of the program you are considering. How will payment be delivered? Some programs offer direct deposit into an authorized account while others send payment to the practice. Determine which solution works best for you and consider it when selecting your third-party partner. Ideally, the less time your staff has to deal with documentation and paperwork to get compensation, the better.

Offering third-party financing can make a difference in your practice by giving patients a financial solution to help them get the care they need. Finding a third-party financing partner with a program that is simple and easy to integrate into the practice is what most providers want. By doing a little research and comparing the available options you can make an informed decision that will benefit both your practice and your patients.

This article was submitted to HR by Melody Martin, PhD, AuD, an audiologist with more than 28 years of experience and the owner of Martin Audiology, one of the largest independent audiology and speech pathology clinics in central Texas. Correspondence can be addressed to HR or Melody Martin, Martin Audiology Associates, 4716 West Waco Dr, Waco, TX 76710; email: [email protected]