When you were cracking the books in PT school, we’re fairly certain you were studying anatomy, not business. So when you opened your practice, it was a bit like being thrown in the deep end of the pool before you learned to swim.
You dreamed about all the money you’d make, but never imagined collecting it would be a nightmare. In our last post, we showed you five helpful ways to improve your practice’s collections from self-paying patients. Here are five more ways to earn more with every patient who walks in your door:
6. Train your staff. By now, your staff has probably grown weary of indebted patients making false promises to pay. We’ve found that collections employees benefit from customer service training because they learn how to “sell” patients on the idea that you expect to be paid without delay.
7. Admit and correct your mistakes. In some instances, patients don’t pay their bills because they believe there was a billing error. If your practice did make an error, it’s important to quickly admit it and correct it. You need to regain the patient’s trust as quickly as possible rather than risk resentment and fuel the mindset that “doctors don’t need the money.”
8. Follow state collections laws. Just as there are HIPAA laws, there are collection laws. Many states govern businesses and professional offices by the same collection laws as collection agencies. Which means you may not be able to call patients at odd hours or disclose to a third party that someone owes you money without serious consequences. Be sure to contact your state’s department of finance to learn more and protect your practice.
9. Consider using a third-party service. Your staff should put the bulk of their time into collection efforts that focus on the first 90 days, when most of your accounts are paid. For those outlier patients who are consistently past 60-90 days, it may be best to consider a third-party collection agency to resolve late-payment issues. You may also want to rely on a flat-fee collection service, an attorney, or small claims court to get the money you deserve.
10. Realize that nobody collects every account. Despite your best efforts to put a carefully designed and administered collection plan in place, there will undoubtedly be a handful of accounts that are simply uncollectable. When you can identify those accounts early on, you will save your practice valuable time and money.
You simply can’t run a successful practice without a sound collections policy in place. These 10 steps will help you maintain good relationships with your patients and enable your practice to thrive any market.