Your accounts receivable has gotten too high. Patients continue to have dental needs but have been slow in paying.
A patient who agrees to make payments within a time frame that makes sense for the practice and for the patient. For the patient not to feel judged or ashamed and to understand the practice wants to help.
We recommend calling the patient first before sending a collection letter series. Here is how to ask for what is owed using 3 simple steps:
- Restate their obligation
- Ask “how much are you short?”
- If they can pay some now, negotiate the balance within a reasonable, for your practice, time-frame.
- If short the whole amount, you are in control of where you take the negotiation next and the payment terms.
Show compassion. “I know how this can happen sometimes”
Purpose: Some patients are angry at you for calling to collect on a bill they have not paid. Remember, most people are really angry at themselves or embarrassed by their financial obligation. Show compassion to help diffuse their anger.
“Mrs. Smith your account was due on, month/date.”
Purpose: Clarification regarding what was due when and to reinforce it is fair for you to be calling them to collect on the account. Be sure you pause and let them talk, don’t rush to the next step
“Mrs. Smith, of the $200 that is due now, how much are you short?”
Never ask these 3 fatal questions:
- How much can you pay?
- When can you pay?
- Can you pay something towards your bill?
All of the above statements give the patient control and enable them to give unreasonable answers, such as $20 per month for the next 20 years.
If you are unable to contact the patient by telephone or receive no return phone call from your messages, send a series of letters. Include a deadline of less than 2 weeks to hear from the patient. The idea is to collect on the balance or turn it over before 90 days has past. In our next posting we will share a sample collection letter series for you to adapt for your practice.