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How to Charge & Collect Payment

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TIP: Create and circulate a script so everyone uses the same information when talking about fees for telehealth services. And, if charging for telehealth is a new process, pilot collecting fees internally before introducing services to clients.

There are numerous models available that can assist in monetizing your telehealth services.

  • Charges can be based on
    • time spent
    • specific procedures
    • skill level of healthcare team member(s) involved
  • Services can be incorporated
    • in wellness plans
    • in subscription bundles
    • in palliative care packages
    • or charged per use

Make sure your staff and clients understand how appointments are billed.

ACTION ITEMS

  • Determine your fees for telehealth services based on the time spent by the veterinarian and by members of the veterinary healthcare team, the cost of the services to the practice, the value of the services to the patient and client, and competitive considerations in the marketplace. Remember that your advice does not lose all value just because it is not provided in person.
  • In general, most third-party platforms will have the client enter payment information when the appointment is scheduled (much like many on-demand transportation services obtain and retain your credit card information). Some platforms will automatically process the payment when the appointment begins; others will allow you to modify the fee or capture the payment at the end of the appointment. If you use a platform like Zoom or FaceTime, then you will need to determine if your customer service representative will collect payment at the time the appointment is scheduled or once it is completed.
  • Make sure your staff and clients understand how appointments are billed. If you are concerned that a client may be a “no-show” for a virtual visit, then you may want to have the customer service representative collect payment when the appointment is scheduled.
  • If you charge a technician fee for nutritional consultations or other services delivered by your support team members, consider the expanded range of services that you can make available through a telehealth service.
  • As was discussed earlier in the context of implementing telehealth plans, it is important to have policies and procedures for payments in place before monetizing any telehealth services. Will there be different fees for after-hours services? What happens if, while you are conducting a telemedicine evaluation, you determine the patient needs to be seen in person? Should you consider giving some type of credit for the in-person physical exam? What if there are technical difficulties during the virtual visit?
  • If diagnostic service providers are charging additional fees for utilization of AI-assisted services, determine if those fees are reflected in the fees your practice charges your clients or if additional service fees should be added as part of your expanded offerings.

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., CareCredit, and Merck Animal Health have supported the development of the 2021 AAHA/AVMA Telehealth Guidelines for Small-Animal Practice and resources through an educational grant to AAHA.