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As a doctor, you know full well that many of your patients struggle to pay their bills on time. You’ve taken several steps to increase collection of payments due across your practice, but unfortunately, sometimes, it feels as though you’re getting nowhere! You need to keep the lights on in your practice, pay your staff, and ensure that your own paycheck is taken care of, so how do you convince your patients to pay their bills? These six key strategies will make it easier to collect on medical bills.
1. Let Patients Know What It’s Going to Cost
Medical bills aren’t always expected, but many procedures can be prepared for ahead of time. In many cases, preparing patients for the cost of those bills will allow them to budget or even to put off a procedure that might not be necessary until they’re able to cover the cost. Be honest: check with the patient’s insurance, see whether or not they’ve met their deductible for the year yet, and make sure you’re including all the costs that go along with the procedure.
2. Collect Upfront
Before you see your patients, go ahead and collect copays, deductibles, and other key amounts for them. Train your front desk staff to insist on this payment before patients are able to come back into the office. If they offer an excuse instead of a form of payment, train your staff that, unless it’s an emergency appointment, their appointment should be rescheduled.
3. Create Options for Payment
Allowing patients to use a payment schedule to pay off medical debt is a great way to keep bringing those payments into your practice even when your patients are struggling to come up with the extra money. By offering solid payment schedules, especially if you offer emergency services or services that are needed quickly, you help create a better rapport with your patients and let them know that you’re willing to work with them. Offering payment plans when you contact them is also a great way to get patients to start paying on an old debt.
- Mention Debt When You Connect
Do you have patients who are in your office on a regular basis–and who are steadily incurring more medical debt? What about patients who are due for their next annual appointment, but still haven’t paid for last year’s? When you connect with your patients through appointment reminders, annual visit reminders, and other means, make sure that you mention the unpaid bills. In some cases, your patients may have simply forgotten about them completely!
- Use a New Method of Connection
If you urgently need to get in touch with a patient, how do you do it? While bill collection might not be urgent, it is necessary–and simply sending a letter every 30 days may not be the incentive patients need. Instead, when accounts reach a certain number of days past due, go ahead and connect with patients over the phone or by email. This is especially helpful if you offer them the ability to make a payment, pay the bill in full, or even set up regular withdrawals from their account right from where they are, rather than forcing them to remember to do something later.
- Use Effective Revenue Cycle Management
You need to concentrate on seeing your patients, and your office staff has plenty of other things to occupy their time. By working with a revenue management company, you can increase the odds that patients will take care of their bills on time without substantially increasing the efforts of your staff.
There are times when you’ll feel as though getting patients to pay their bills is the most difficult part of your job. Fortunately, we’re here to help. If you need help getting your patients to pay their bills on time, contact us today to learn how we can partner with your practice to ensure more effective revenue management.