Sitting at the front desk of a healthcare practice can be a lot of fun in many ways. You have your favourite patients or clients that make your day when they come in for their appointments. Asking those patients to pay is no problem. They’re the easy-to-deal-with ones.
And then there are the problems ones … especially the ones who don’t or won’t pay, or who owe you money from the past that you need to collect. Often, these are at the bottom of your wish list of tasks you would like to get done each day. Sometimes you can feel mean by making them pay or you can feel like you are bugging them. Factually, your practice provided a service and there is a fee for that and they knew it and they owe it. Don’t be made to feel like you are doing something wrong when doing collections.
How to Ask:
- If in person, that’s fairly easy: “How would you like to handle this $248 today … do you want to pay with a VISA or by cheque?” No real problem here.
- If it is by phone for the whole payment that they said they would send in and haven’t yet: “Hi Mrs. Jones. How are you doing? I’m checking in with you because we have not yet received the cheque you were to send for the last visit. Have you sent it yet?” If not: “Would it be possible to send it today or maybe you would prefer to put it on a card right now and be done with it?”
- If it is by phone and it’s just the co-pay or maybe they owe a small cancellation fee for missing an appointment: “Hi Mr. Smith, just checking in with you to collect a little outstanding amount on your account with us for $___. How would you like to take care of this? Do you have a VISA or Mastercard to put it on?
- Long outstanding major amount: “Hi Mr. Green, I’m calling you about your account with us. We would really like to have a heart to heart about how you are going to handle the outstanding amount and come to a workable resolution. What can you work out so we can get it paid now?” “Have you ever increased the limit on your credit card? It’s just a simple call to your VISA or MC centre and perhaps that would help you out so you can handle this debt with us.”
- Patient or client arguing on the phone about the amount owing: “Mrs. Orange, I think the best way to handle this is to let me review this with Dr. Jones and I’ll call you back.” If Dr. Jones says the bill is staying the same: “Mrs. Orange, I have reviewed the outstanding amount owing with Dr. Jones and I went over with him your concern, and he feels it is correct the way it is. How would you like to take care of this outstanding amount?” If still argumentative: “Would you like to come in and have consult with Dr. Jones to resolve it? When would be best?”
First and Foremost
Try and feel some care and affection for the person you are collecting from. If you put animosity, hate, anger or annoyance into the picture, you will only create the same on the other side or worsen it if they are already experiencing negative emotions. The person may not be your “cup of tea” as a person, but giving them dignity and some affection goes a long way to handling difficult situations.
Having good records
This may be stating the obvious but a good way of preventing arguments and disputes with patients or clients is to have perfect records of what was quoted and agreed to.
NOTE: If you run into other scenarios than above that you would like help with, just email us the question at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer you.