A/R: Tips on how to approach Accounts receivable
It’s inevitable. Every practice will have patients with unpaid balances. While it is unpleasant to have to ask your patients for payment on their account, it is critical to the practice.
Here are some of the strategies PBA and Associates have put in place to improve patient payment collections:
- Retrain front-desk staff- The most important approach is to train (or retrain) the staff that serves as the first point of contact for patients: your front-desk staff. Make sure they are able to look at patient accounts when checking in a patient. As they are confirming insurance and demographics, they can politely remind the patient about a past-due balance and ask how the patient would like to pay it. It’s crucial to not ask a yes or no question such as, “Do you want to pay your balance today?” The answer will usually be “no.” It works much better to ask if the patient would prefer to pay with a check or credit card.
- Look for other payment options- Most practices also see other members of the family, our billing staff also looks at other member’s accounts to see if there are any credits that could be moved from one account to another. Parents are always thrilled when we can do that and reduce their bill somewhat (and it’s always better to apply the credit rather than for us to write a check back to the patient).
- PBA and Associates utilizes patient calls and text messaging for bill reminders- We have deployed a new system of contacting patients to remind them their bill is now due. The calls are approached from a perspective to answer any questions the patient may have and asked for payment. These calls have lowered patient balances by 50%.
- Don’t keep chasing patients- Then, of course, there is the persistent non-paying patient. Every phone call and letter sent to the patient costs your practice money and cuts into the revenue you could receive from that delinquent payment. Don’t keep chasing a non-payer. We recommend very clear rules on just how many calls or letters the practice will send and then forward the past due balance to a good collection local company.
- Make the consequences clear, and stick to them – We call three times and send two “dear patient” letters. In the letters we make it very clear that failure to contact us about payment will result in dismissal from the practice and having the account turned over to collections. Remember if you must turn the account over to a collection agency, you will receive pennies on the dollar. Although, many patients will send you the entire amount once they have been sent to collections in order to have their name removed from these services.
- Dismiss when necessary- When a patient does ultimately pay his past-due balance, you must decide whether you want to continue seeing him. If you think that he will continue to be difficult with paying his bills to you in a timely manner, you may need to terminate the doctor-patient relationship. Just remember you must give the patient a 30-day grace period in which you will see him for urgent matters (otherwise you risk being charged with patient abandonment).
We realize how hard all our physicians work and you also have bills to pay in a timely manner. PBA and Associates takes pride in assuring our physicians receive 93-98% of their payments within the first 30-40 days.