Billing and Late Payments: Keeping Patients Happy
Most of us have dealt with late or missed payments at some point. Healthcare is no exception. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always pick up the entire invoice, and your patients are left to foot the balance. This can be an unpleasant situation that could quickly turns into angry reviews. But, there are ways to keep your patients happy throughout the billing process.
Invest in Technology
Having the right technology in your practice can help you avoid late payments. For example, payroll processing software makes it easier to send invoices and, more importantly, accept different payment types. Having the ability to take diverse payment options makes it easier for patients to pay on time.
Another option is to purchase software that reaches your patients on their terms. One example is texting. The vast majority of consumers today have access to an SMS device, typically a smartphone. Sending a text request for late payments is a non-intrusive way to gently remind patients that they have an unpaid invoice.
Establish Clear Payment Terms
There are many different payment terms you might opt to use. Some options include installment plans, recurring plans or save on file plans. Whichever you choose, make sure they are clearly marked on your invoice. If possible, it should be in a different color than the rest of the text. You’ll also want to note any additional fees incurred for paying beyond your agreed-upon terms.
Encourage Early Payments
One of the best ways to reduce late payments is to encourage early and on-time paying behaviors. To do so, you may want to offer an incentive. One example is to offer a gift, such as a t-shirt or notebook, if they complete their payment within 15 days of receiving a bill. Another option is to set up a recurrent billing cycle. In a healthcare setting, this might make sense for clients that have optional services, such as vitamin injections, physical therapy, or routine elective cosmetic procedures, like Botox injections.
No matter how much you incentivize, there will be times when you have to pick up the phone or have a face-to-face interaction with the patient to request a payment. Unfortunately, you might have to remind them that you can no longer provide services until their bill is settled. According to HelpScout, there are several ways to talk to communicate effectively. Start by maintaining a positive attitude and using positive language. And, if you are returning a call, do so in a timely manner. Your patients will be more likely to cooperate when they believe that you respect their time. You should also use their first name, or appropriate title, and respectfully mirror their tone, whether it’s professional, formal, or casual.
Ultimately, your patients keep your practice up and running. You will inevitably run into issues related to billing/payments, but the goal should always be to maintain positivity. These tips can help you do just that and maintain a well-run practice.