Collecting on bills with compassion

How to collect funds without harming patient relationship.

Q: How do I collect funds due me without harming our relationship with the patient?

A: Anything that antagonizes the patient and reflects adversely on your practice is too aggressive. Effective collection agents generally speak to debtors the way they would to their mothers. In the first phone call, establish the patients' willingness to fulfill their obligations and their ability to pay. From there, develop a payment plan that is mutually beneficial to both parties. If you work properly with the debtor, you can avoid having to make multiple phone calls and risk being charged with harassment.

Every medical practice, when welcoming new patients, should explain its office's procedures in securing payment before and after a visit and what patients will be charged for each visit based on their health plan. Then, inquire how each patient intends to pay. If necessary, coordinate a meeting with your billing department to develop a payment plan.

Send your practice management questions to