Injecting the prompt pay germ to prevent slow-pay disease

October 10, 2013

They say that “confession is good for the soul,” so let us admit right at the start that the average physician is often a poor business man when it comes to collecting the money honestly due him.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the inaugural issue of Medical Economics in October 1923. It is being republished as part of Medical Economics 90th anniversary in October 2013.

They say that “confession is good for the soul,” so let us admit right at the start that the average physician is often a poor business man when it comes to collecting the money honestly due him.

This should not be so. It is nothing to be proud about. If the money you “did not bother” to collect mean a loss just to you, it would be bad enough, but the damage is greater than this.

You breed, among people, a tendency to think lightly of their obligations to physicians generally. You encourage people to get the wrong viewpoint as to paying for medical services. While it would be too much to say that your carelessness makes “dead beats” out of many slow-pay individuals, it is true that every time a physician says “he hasn’t the time to collect his bills,” he is just breeding in the mind of some weak-minded individual the impression that “doctors can wait.” And the result is that the profession as a whole suffers.

You don’t find people making their landlords wait for the rent, do you? They have been trained to feel that the rent must be paid – and they pay it. You don’t find people lax about paying their telephone or light bills. They know better than to wait too long. It is all in training them at the start to appreciate that prompt pay is expected and must be made. People instinctively do what is expected of them. They are creatures of habit. If a “thing is being done” they go ahead and do it. They seldom question why. Because a thing has “always been done that way” they feel it is right and proper. That is where the physician has failed. He has been to loose in his billing and collection work. And carelessness on the part of the giver of the service (the physician) is sure to breed carelessness on the part of the receiver of the service (the patient).

But you physician cannot be expected to use the same billing or collection method of a business house, for he has neither the facilities nor the time. But he can, most positively, send his bills out promptly and attach to the first bills such little memorandums as shown in this article.

All we suggest is that the progressive physician simply go to some multigraph or letter-shop in his town and have them run off several hundred copies of these little slips of reminders.

Then send them out, pinned to the first bills. This save the time and trouble of writing any letters in the early stages of the indebtedness and yet doing more than merely sending a bill, for you must do more than must send the bill.

The following slips are intended for use with the first billing. Several are shown s that physician can make his own selection. Remember, please, these slips are multigraphed on small pieces of bond paper, about 3 x5 and pinned to the bill. They will cause the patient not only to stop and think – but train the patient to think as he should regarding the obligation.

 

 The most popular appeals appear below:

 

IN TIME OF TROUBLE-THE DOCTOR

The Doctor is you best friend in time of trouble and just as in emergencies he strives to help you and yours; you should strive to help him by promptly paying his bills. It may seem a little thing in itself, but when you promptly send your check, you make it easier for the Doctor to mark you account “paid in full.” And he does not forget.

YOU WILL DO IT ULTIMATELY. DO IT NOW. THANK YOU.

 

YOUR COURTESY IS REQUESTED

Kindly forward your check in payment of the attached bill and help me to maintain my accounts in their usual “paid in full” condition. Permit me to thank for your usual courteous action in promptly settling professional charges of this nature.

 

 

PROMPT PAYENT CREATES GOODWILL

Doctors, like other humans, cannot help feeling kindly toward those patients who promptly take care of their obligations and thus conserve the time of the physician and enable him to give full attention to his professional duties rather than to concern himself about the engaging of collectors to collect his bills.

Thank you for taking care of attached and promptly letting me have your check.