Unlocking the Power of Medical Practice Collection Letters: 7 Techniques to Enhance Your Letters, Including Free Templates

Maximize Your Medical Collection Letters for Enhanced Revenue Streams. Discover 7 Expert Tips and Free Templates for Efficient Debt Recovery and Patient Satisfaction.

Unlocking the Power of Medical Practice Collection Letters: 7 Techniques to Enhance Your Letters, Including Free Templates

Say goodbye to intimidating collection letters that could alienate patients. In the medical field, a more empathetic approach is key. Follow these 7 guidelines to refine your A/R communications and boost your revenue swiftly.

1.Address the Core Issue

According to Brandon Betancourt, a practice administrator at Pediatric Inc. in Chicago, identifying nonpaying patients often involves categorizing them into four main types:

Patients who don't understand the bill.

Patients who missed the bill or forgot to pay.

Patients who can't afford to cover the entire bill.

Patients who never intended to pay from the start.

To effectively categorize patients, review your collections list and seek insights from practitioners, such as attending physicians or nurses. Verify if you have their current address on file and assess if they are experiencing financial difficulties. Additionally, consider external factors like medication changes that might contribute to their confusion.

Betancourt's recommendation is to approach patients in groups 1, 2, and 3 differently than those in group 4, who never intended to pay. In other words, individuals with legitimate reasons for nonpayment should receive a more compassionate approach.

2.Extend a Gentle Outreach

Irrespective of the patient's reasons for nonpayment, your initial action should involve sending a reminder.

"The key goal is to inform the patient that their bill is overdue. There should be no threats or intimidation," recommends Betancourt. "You might consider mentioning that the bill could be confusing. Encourage questions and phone inquiries. However, it's essential to maintain a compassionate and non-punitive tone at this stage.

3.Explore Texting as an Option

Many medical practices have adopted text messaging to inform patients about their invoices, often experiencing swift payments.

Texts offer a less intrusive means of communication compared to phone calls. They tend to have a higher delivery rate than traditional mail since cell phone numbers are usually up-to-date. Moreover, texts are typically read promptly; a study revealed that 95% of text messages receive a response within minutes of being received.

Leveraging your electronic health record (EHR), you can automate text generation, allowing patients to make payments with a simple click on their mobile phones.

Additionally, consider including a contact number in text messages to facilitate easy communication with patients. When they call, this provides an opportunity to discuss the reasons behind their nonpayment.

4.Inquire About Their Needs and How You Can Assist

Demonstrating a willingness to support patients with payment arrangements conveys a positive, caring attitude, and prioritizes their health and well-being over financial concerns, fostering essential patient-provider relationships.

A simple inquiry such as "How can we assist you?" can elicit requests for extended grace periods, potential discounts, or aid in dealing with insurers.

When approached with sensitivity, discussions about billing can strengthen patient loyalty.

It's crucial to recognize that patients undergoing medical crises often experience heightened stress and may require an extra dose of empathy compared to the general population.

5.Replace Aggressive Letters with a Kinder Approach

Brandon Betancourt emphasizes that the language in collection letters directed at patients is often excessively severe. These letters frequently issue warnings of immediate payment or the looming involvement of a collections agency, employing phrases like 'final warning,' '3rd and final attempt,' or 'delinquent' in bold or capital letters. Unfortunately, such letters are designed to intimidate debtors, assuming that patients are deliberately evading payment. However, this approach doesn't align with the reality for most non-payers, as they often have valid reasons for their delay and are understandably put off by this heavy-handed language.

Betancourt notes that these intimidating letters are generally ineffective. They may frighten a few individuals, but for seasoned debtors accustomed to financial pressures, the response is often one of indifference: 'So, you're sending me to collections? Join the queue!' In these cases, rather than receiving payments, you encounter apathy.

Worse yet, threatening letters can provoke anger. Betancourt highlights that no one appreciates being labeled 'delinquent,' even if they technically are. When a patient becomes upset with the practice, the likelihood of payment significantly diminishes. In fact, Betancourt found that his strongly worded letters were largely counterproductive, causing more resentment than payments.

Betancourt's transition to using more empathetic reminder letters yielded substantial improvements, increasing his response rate from a mere 5% with stern language letters to an impressive range of 30 to 40%.

6.Make Personal Contact via Phone

Should the initial letter yield no response, Betancourt often turns to making a phone call, emphasizing that the intention is not to induce guilt or coercion but to provide information.

He provides an example of how he typically initiates a collections phone call:

"Hello, Mrs. Smith. We're following up on the letter we sent last week regarding little Taylor's sore throat visit last month, for which we haven't received payment. Do you have any questions or concerns about the charges? We're here to help clarify anything you need and to inform you that we can arrange a payment plan if that would be more convenient for you."

In cases where the patient remains unreachable, Betancourt may send a follow-up letter reiterating the primary points from the initial letter. If deemed appropriate, this follow-up letter may adopt a firmer tone, alluding to potential complications should the patient fail to make contact or settle the outstanding bill.

7.Harness the Power of a Trusted Medical Practice Collection Letter Template

Betancourt provides a highly effective letter template that has significantly boosted his practice's collection rates. This template is characterized by its straightforward, courteous, and non-threatening approach, allowing you the flexibility to duplicate and customize it to align with your specific requirements.

Collection letter template #1

Dear [Payer Name],

It has been over a month since we dispatched a billing statement for the services provided, and we have yet to receive any response.

Your present balance with [Provider Name] is [Patient Balance].

We understand that medical bills and insurance statements can sometimes be perplexing. If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to reach out to us; we are here to assist.

We are also aware that some of our patients may be facing financial challenges. If this is the case, we are more than willing to collaborate with you in devising a payment plan that suits your circumstances.

To meet your obligation without causing undue strain, please feel free to contact us at [Phone Number].

If you have already remitted payment, kindly disregard this letter.

We anticipate your prompt response or the receipt of your payment within the next five days.

Thank you for your timely attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Collection letter template #2

Dear [Payer Name],

We wish to gently remind you about the lingering balance of [Patient Balance] for services rendered more than [# of days] days ago by [Provider Name].

If you have already made the payment, kindly accept our apologies, and feel free to disregard this letter.

However, if you are encountering challenges that make it difficult to settle this balance, we often have the flexibility to establish a tailored payment plan for your ease. Please reach out to our office at [Phone number] to explore the available options.

Should you have any inquiries concerning your invoice, insurance matters, or the services provided, please do not hesitate to contact us.

No matter the circumstances, we are committed to working together to resolve this outstanding payment, preserving our valued relationship. Your health and well-being remain our primary concern, and we are here to offer assistance in any way we can.

We eagerly await your earliest response.

Sincerely,

[Name]

[Phone / Email]

Keep in mind that the recommendations provided above are based on the assumption that you are adhering to established best practices in medical collections. These include verifying patient eligibility prior to service delivery, promptly collecting copayments and deductibles during the service, and consistently ensuring the accuracy of insurance and demographic information.

Related Posts

Subscribe to The Practice

Your weekly practice check-up delivered directly to your inbox for independent practitioners.

Subscribe