Collecting By Phone

William R. Pupkis, CMPE, Healthcare Consultant

Following up on delinquent accounts by telephone may be the least favorite job in your practice, but it has to be done, and some people are really quite good at it. The key is to identify that person and develop his or her ability to make patients pay without losing their goodwill.

CollectingByPhoneFirst – Be sure to assign the responsibility to one specific person. Spreading the accounts among various employees or having the calls made by whoever has some free time almost surely causes the task to fail.  It is an example of the old adage, “If everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.”

Second – The responsible person must be given specific time slot(s) and some privacy in which to make the calls.  Follow-up calls tend to be put off if there is something else to do, therefore, it is important to reserve a morning, afternoon, or early evening for that work and nothing else. In the same vein, the work should be handled in a confidential setting.  A private location assures there are no temptations to move on to other, more appealing tasks.

Third – The caller must have all relevant information about an account before he or she makes the call.  This should include the patient’s account information and prior follow-up efforts, i.e., when collection letters went out, what responses have been received, etc. Each patient response should be recorded. If additional follow-up efforts are necessary, previous responses can be used as a reference.

"... have a specific format for the call"

Finally – The caller should have a specific format for the call.  He or she should not discuss the reason for the call until the person speaking has been positively identified the person responsible for the bill. Once that is accomplished, the caller can introduce himself or herself and the purpose of the call.  The caller should then be sure to pause so the patient can reply. The caller should try to create a cooperative solution to the problem. He or she might appeal to the patient’s pride and sense of fairness and then seek a promise of payment.  Upon receiving a verbal agreement to pay, the patient should be told that the promise is being noted.

Summary – Obtaining the best results in collecting delinquent accounts by telephone requires all of the following: 1) assign the responsibility to one specific person, 2) make sure that person has specific time slot(s) and some privacy in which to make the calls, 3) assemble all relevant information about an account ahead of time, and 4) be sure the caller follows a predetermined format.

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This entry was posted on Monday, November 11th, 2013 at 4:52 pm and is filed under Practice Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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