Why all caps for the word “COPE”? Well, it’s an acronym for four best practices in how you can drive payments from your past due patients without risking the long-term relationships you’ve worked so hard to build.
Are you putting any or all of these concepts to work for your practice?
C – Comfort
Past due balances can be embarrassing for patients. Most staff members don’t like discussing them either. So how do you create a level of comfort for these necessary interactions? You automate it. Think about it – a patient who feels somewhat ashamed of being late on their payment would prefer not having to speak with a live person to handle it. The staff members typically tasked with making these uncomfortable calls to a full A/R list would much rather spend their time working with the most problematic accounts that truly need their involvement and expertise – creating comfort for THOSE payers. Establishing comfortable conversation is a big step forward in your receivables strategy.
O – Options
Making a payment needs to be easy, right? When you’re communicating with patients about their balance, offer an easy way for them to take action. If you’re contacting patients with an automated phone call, let them immediately transfer to make payment. If you’re emailing them, a link to the online portal would be nice. Payment preferences vary by generations and income-levels. Enabling a variety of payment options allows you to be accommodating for ALL patients, and it makes them far more likely to resolve their balance.
P – Positivity
Asking a patient for money isn’t exactly the stuff of a Hallmark card, but adopting a positive tone in your communication can make the request feel less abrasive to the patient. Many successful practices like to frame the communication as an introduction to the different options available listing portal URLs, callback numbers, etc. More of a “did you know?” than a “you’d better pay now.” For phone calls, the actual tone of the voice matters too. When staff members are tasked with making calls, are they able to maintain the same enthusiasm at Call #50 that they had for Call #1? An automated approach to these messages allows for consistent positive tone to each and every patient.
E – Early outreach
Only 19% of practices reach out to past due accounts before the 60 day mark. For the 4 out of 5 of you waiting to action, there’s too wide of a gap between the service rendered and your request for payment. Earlier outreach avoids confusion over why a balance is owed and makes the patient feel less like they’re being “chased” for payment. Early outreach is also important for future appointment volume. How many patients aren’t scheduling next visits because they know they owe you money? Early outreach can help both you and your patients put the balance behind them and continue working together toward their care.