Magazine article Medical Economics

6 Tips to Manage Patient Collections Accounts

Magazine article Medical Economics

6 Tips to Manage Patient Collections Accounts

Article excerpt

Every practice will have patients with unpaid balances. While it is unpleasant to ask people to pay you what is owed, it is critical to collect this revenue.

Here are some of the strategies my practice has put in place to improve patient payment collections:


Retrain front-desk staff

The most important approach is to train (or retrain) the staff that serves as the first point of contact for patients: your front-desk staff.

Make sure staff members are able to view patient accounts when checking in a patient. As they are confirming insurance and demographics, they can politely remind the patient about a past-due balance and ask how the patient would like to pay it. It's crucial not to ask a yes or no question such as, "Do you want to pay your balance today?" The answer will usually be "no." A more effective approach is to ask if the patient would prefer to pay with a check or credit card.


Look for other payment options

Because we are a pediatric practice, our front-desk staff also looks at siblings' accounts to see if there are any credits that could be moved from one account to another. Parents are always thrilled when we can do that and reduce their bill somewhat (and it's always better to apply the credit rather than for us to write a check back to the patient).


Ask a staff member to step up

We also have one front-desk person in each of our offices who, in addition to her regular duties, is assigned to work the list of past-due balances. She calls patients about their balances in between answering phones and checking patients in and out. Make sure that the person you choose has excellent phone etiquette, but also has the tenacity to not take "no" for an answer.


Don't keep chasing patients

Then, of course, there is the persistent non-paying patient. Every phone call and letter sent to the patient costs your practice money and cuts into the revenue you could receive from that delinquent payment. …

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