Raise Your Hand if Doing Collections Isn’t Why You Went to PT School, Part 1 of 2

You became a PT or OT because you wanted to help people. You find it exceedingly gratifying to restore your patients’ strength, agility, and independence after they were so weakened by illness or injury. That’s what you focus on at the end of each therapy session – not receiving an immediate payment. Yes, deep within your personal DNA lays the heart of a Peace Corps volunteer, not a hardcore collections specialist.

The world needs more folks like you. But you have to admit that you need more money coming in the door each day, too. We’re happy to report that it’s possible to do both. In this two-part series, we’ll provide you with ten ways to improve your self-paying patients’ collections – without selling your soul.

1. Define your credit policy. Post it in your clinic. Be clear with your patients from their very first visit when you expect payment. Remind them when they come in for each treatment, and/or when you mail your invoices.

2. Invoice promptly and send statements on a regular schedule. This will set the tone for systematic billing and, in turn, faster collections. They’ll realize you are not lax on billing and less apt to risk having their account go into collections.

3. Use “Address Service Requested.” Patients don’t always think to alert you when they move. But you can have the U.S. Postal Service do this for you by using its “address service requested” procedure. When you print those words on the envelope of any statement or correspondence just below your return address they will search for the new address for a nominal fee and send you a form with the correct address. It’s a small price to pay to keep in touch with your patients for your billing and future marketing materials.

4. Contact patients with overdue accounts often. Perhaps they simply have too many things on their plate right now to remember your invoices, or they were the ones who always needed to be reminded to bring their lunch money to school. A friendly reminder every 10 to14 days will help you collect a higher percentage of these past-due accounts.

5. Use your aging sheet. You can’t judge patients’ financial behavior by their friendly demeanor in your office. The stats don’t lie on your aging A/R sheet. So create a systematic follow-up plan to determine who intends to pay and who does not.

If you did indeed raise your hand at the beginning of this post, we’re glad you kept reading about these five steps. Now turn that hand over and reach out to your patients to get paid more promptly. And stay tuned for five more steps to improve your collections.

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