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7 best practices for optimizing your collections

By Ranadene (Randi) K. Tapio, MBA, CMRS, CMC, Guest Contributor  bio

Collections isn’t the most glamorous part of running a practice. Perhaps the only thing worse than making collections calls is receiving them! Unfortunately, collections is necessary and if done correctly, it will allow you to collect on accounts that have sat stagnant for months, sometimes years.

In our years of experience managing collections for small and medium physician practices, we’ve identified seven best practices for optimizing your collections.

1. Speak their language. There are so many ways to communicate these days. Routinely ask and record how your patients prefer to be contacted. Phone? Email? Text? Mail? Patient Portal? For best collections results, communicate with your patients using their preferred communication method.

2. Allow multiple payment options. Similar to communication methods, there are several payment methods that different people prefer. For some, a payment plan might be their best option. For others, credit card payments. For yet others, cash or checks. Sometimes, patients want the ability to finance their medical procedure through a healthcare financing company like CareCredit. Make sure your practice can accept multiple forms of payment to optimize your collections.

3.Coach your staff. Have you ever read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”? We love it and encourage your patient-facing staff to read it and implement some of the principles! A few of these principles include: Be a good listener; Talk in terms of the other person’s interest; Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely. By implementing these principles, your patients will feel less attacked and more heard—which in turn will hopefully lead to increased payments.

4. Optimize technology. Most practice management systems, patient portals, and/or EHR platforms have advanced notification settings where you’re able to reach out to the patient (via their preferred communication method, of course) with reminders, balances, past-due alerts, etc. Using technology to automate parts of the process can reduce the heavy lifting for your staff.

5. Discuss costs upfront. Being upfront about the costs of your patient’s care is one of the most effective ways to minimize collections. If you offer a limited number of services, consider listing the prices on your website or marketing collateral. If you’re a general practice, ensure your staff is communicating with patients before treatment regarding costs and how they plan on paying for their care.

6. Incentivize your collections staff. Collections can be tedious and tiresome. Consider offering incentives—cash or other prizes—to help the task feel a little more exciting. Some incentives we’ve seen include PTO, cash, practice logowear and gift cards—based on the amount they’ve collected.

7. Enlist expert help. Consider partnering with a healthcare-focused organization that specializes in collections. The tricks they’ve learned by working with other practices may decrease your outstanding balances in a shorter amount of time than doing so internally. There are many great organizations out there (and, yes, MedCycle Solutions is one of them).


Implement these tips to help reduce your collections timeline and increase the amount you’re collecting.

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