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READER TIPS

Get personal to get patients to pay faster

Set the expectation of payment before the patient comes in.

When the office calls to confirm an appointment, whether it’s a live conversation or an automated message, say, “Your co-pay is due when you check in.” In other words, “bring your wallet.”

Some offices go so far as to refuse people who don’t have the co-pay at the time of the visit. However, such a strict policy fails to take into account patients’ individual circumstances and can cause bad feelings and loss of business.

Plan what to say

You should have a script ready to use when the patient checks in for the appointment.

Here is an example: “Welcome, Mrs. Patient. I see you are still covered by XYZ Insurance. May we collect your $20 co-pay now?”

If the response is, “Oh gee, I forgot my wallet,” have an alternative solution.

Direct the patient to the nearest ATM and or offer to hold the appointment for a reasonable time so she can run home and get the checkbook.

Hard to say no

Here is how to make discomfort work in your favor. This technique will make it uncomfortable for the patient to ask for a payment deferral.

-Ask for the payment.

-Drop your gaze instead of looking expectantly at the patient.

-Begin to create the receipt on the computer or write it out.

A real person waits for payment

If this doesn’t work, try the following payment option that is positive and personal.

Give the patient a copy of the invoice plus an addressed envelope to mail the payment in. And at the same time, tell the patient, “Here’s an envelope you can use to send in your payment. I am Staffer A, and I’m putting my name here on the envelope for you. I’ll watch for it.”

The staffer then writes her (or his) name on the envelope while the patient is watching. And the key to success is for the staffer’s name to be written out while the patient is standing there.

Now the patient isn’t avoiding some anonymous person in the business office, but with staffer who knows the payment is due and is watching for that envelope. It becomes embarrassing to delay payment.


Medical Office Manager wants to send you $100. Tell us how you solved a problem, implemented a successful program – or share any idea we can use in our Reader Tips column and we’ll send you $100.
Contact catherine@plainlanguagemedia.com


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