Debt Collection in Healthcare: How to Collect Debts Efficiently and Legally
PART II: Techniques to improve your debt collection now.
CLEARLY OUTLINE RESPONSIBILITY FOR PAYMENT.
Make sure you have a Terms of Payment procedure visibly posted at the front of the office. New patients need to clearly understand what they are expected to pay up-front. This needs to be clarified before services are rendered.
Authority to Make Healthcare Decisions
Decisions can be legally made by:
· The patient (if mentally and physically competent)
· A designated agent under an advanced healthcare directive
· Healthcare surrogate (under MS Code. Ann Sec. 41-41-211)
Helpful facts to know about collecting debt:
· The longer an account goes unpaid, the more difficult it becomes to collect.
· Timing is everything. No account, with the exception of the government or certain medical claims should be uncollected for more than 90 days.
· By 120 days, very serious measures should be taken. After the original billing goes out, a notice should be sent once the due date has passed.
Keep up the good work!
· Notices should be sent out at 30/60/90 days.
· Utilize collection letters.
· Phone calls should be attempted to reach the responsible party.
Make the phone calls count!
· Confidence: When calling past-due customers or debtors, communicating confidence is key. You have to stay in control of the call, and the only way to do this is by being confident and prepared.
· Documentation: Document all collection efforts, including when you called, with whom you spoke, and what was said. Also include anything else you think might be important to someone who might call or take a call from the debtor, so they know the status of the account and the payment.
Tips for making debt collection calls:
· Smile: Come up with a greeting that says you’re pleasant and confident. When your customer answers the phone and realizes you’re calling about a past due invoice, they’re not going to he happy. You want to portray confidence and not a dull, boring message. Smile when you talk on the phone; it will be noticeable in your voice.
· Speak Up: You voice should be lound enough to be heard and convey confidence—not too loud but not too soft. You want your debtor to hear you and understand what you’re saying.
· Focus: Maintain virtual eye contact by staying focused on the call. Don’t check your email or watch other people in the office. Sit up straight in your chair and imagine that the debtor is sitting across from you.
· Relax: Use your face, voice and posture to portray your confidence over the phone and in person.
If you use these techniques, you’ll collect more money and have better results from the collection calls you make. Make your calls in the most effective way the first time, so you don’t have to continue making them—and risk letting the debtor take control of the call.
For suggestions in developing long-range debt collection solutions, see Part I: Changes You Can Make In Your Debt Collection Policies and Procedures