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Patient Payments Blog

The Idea That Reduces Patient Receivables Every Time.

Posted by Jim Turner

Jul 12, 2016 9:00:00 AM


 I’ve never met anyone who enjoys making collection calls to patients. I spent some time as a collector and I can’t think of anything you could pay me to repeat the experience. If a way exists to avoid them wouldn’t most, if not all, office managers jump at the chance? But, collecting is one of those necessary evils that every medical office has to do - right? Not necessarily.

I was skeptical, almost incredulous,  the first time I heard that medical offices could virtually eliminate collections. I really didn’t believe a solution existed that meant medical practices would never have to call a patient for a past due bill.  And that’s true if we leave the word ‘never’ in the sentence. I don’t think it’s possible to completely eliminate having to call a past due patient now and then.

I have seen medical offices that have nearly eliminated collection calls though. They only have to make reminder calls from time to time. Practices that experience success in eliminating most of their patient collection calls operate from a very simple idea and then discipline their practice to always stick to that idea. You could call it the ‘secret’ to eliminating collections and reassigning your collections staff.  Here’s the idea.

You eliminate the need to collect for every patient that gives you a sufficient deposit or leaves a credit card-on-file to cover responsible charges.

This idea works every time the patient writes a check large enough or has a credit card-on-file with sufficient balance to cover all charges. It’s flawless because, in effect, the money is already in your hands. There are some potential ‘real-life’ breakdowns when we implement the idea though, which I’m sure you’ve already thought of.

If the deposit is not enough or too much you’ll have to either collect more or create a refund. If the credit card declines for some reason you’ll have to contact the patient to get another form of payment. These instances don’t negate the idea though. In every case where enough money is successfully taken up front there are no back end collection activities.

The advantages of the credit card-on-file over a cash or check deposit are many. Credit cards put you in control of when you get paid. If the patient needs to pay for several visits, tests, etc. which will be submitted separately to insurance then having a card-on-file is perfect because it can be used for each invoice. Deposits might have to be unbearably large to accomplish the same thing. Exact amounts due at the time they are due can also be charged to a credit card whereas a deposit is almost always an estimate.  Payment plans to cover large balances can also be implemented for patients who need them. Cash or check for payment plans are no better than sending invoices and waiting for money - the patient is still in control of when you get paid. Credit cards-on-file with the permission to use them for all charges incurred are the most flexible and powerful way for medical offices to get paid on time.

So if the idea works every time it’s tried, why aren’t more practices trying it? Too busy, not a high enough priority, afraid of another change, don’t know it’s possible, too skeptical to try, and afraid they’ll lose patients, are a few of the possible reasons. Whatever your reason for the delay in implementing this idea in your practice, you’ll regret you hesitated once you begin and see the results. If you are truly tired of chasing money with your present collections process then DOWNLOAD OUR GUIDE BELOW to see how to get started.


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Topics: Patient Balances, medical practice management, Patient Collections, Patient Payments, Patient Collections Culture, tac, practice management, Medical Billing

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