Collections: Clearly communicate patient's responsibility

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A. As a whole, the healthcare industry has taught patients to not pay their bills by stamping the phrase "insurance pending-don't pay" on the statement. While the bills you send may not include that verbiage, sending out statements each month without follow-up encourages payment delays. The patient's mindset can be difficult to change but it can and must be done. 

The key to getting paid is changing the patient's behavior. That starts with how you communicate with your patients. How often are you sending your patients a bill or a statement? Does the statement have an exact due date? Do you include an envelope for payment to be mailed back? The main reason your patients aren't paying may be that they do not understand the bill, know how much to pay or even know when to pay. Would you pay a bill if you didn't know the clear balance due and the date it is due? No, so why do you expect your patients to do the same? 

Not only do you need to communicate clearly the patient's balance, but you also have to make it easy for them to pay. As we discussed in last month's article, giving the patient the ability to pay online, as well as continuing to accept health spending cards, you will start to notice how quickly your patients are paying. 

I urge you to take a step back and evaluate your billing process. Does the communication make sense? Is it timely for the patients? Is it easy for your patients to pay that bill? If the answers are no, it is time to discover a new solution. The patients will continue to come to you for their supplies, but allowing them to get away with non-payment is a thing of the past. You have to collect the patient's portion and it all starts with changing the patient's mindset and behavior.

Kevin Winkley is president of Strategic AR. Reach him at or 913-744-3360.