Precall Plan Improves Telephone Collections

The telephone is a powerful tool in your hands as a collector of past-due patient bills — if you know what you’re doing. On large amounts where the patient is likely to ask for a “deal,” follow this four-step plan before you pick up the phone: 

  1. Gather relevant facts about the outstanding bill, such as how much, how long past due, and number of previous collection attempts.
  2. Review the patient’s payment history to be prepared for possible objections (e.g., “But I just sent you a payment last month!”).
  3. Decide whether you will accept a discounted settlement or installment payments, and if so, what is the smallest acceptable amount. This avoids unplanned pauses or hesitations that invite the other person to take control of the call. 
  4. Schedule calls for when the patient or person responsible for the patient’s bill is available, which is usually between 4 pm and 8 pm on weekdays.

Also, be sure your practice follows the billing disclosure requirements for uninsured and indigent patients.

Source: I.C. System, a TMA-endorsed debt collection service. For more e-tips about collections, see the TMA Collections resource page. Looking for staff training aids? TMA’s Rx for Success: Communicating to Improve Collections  (publication) and Effective Collections Techniques (webinar) teach how to talk to patients about money and enforce your practice’s payment policies. 

Published Feb. 17, 2016

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