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How one practice addressed the issue of delinquent patient payments

A medical practice in Fayetteville, GA, had an ongoing situation with 20 or so longtime patients who believed because they knew the doctor personally and even socialized with him that they could pay for medical services when it was convenient for them.

Yet, Rick E. Blondeau, practice manager, believed the doctor shouldn’t wait to be paid for his service that he performed in good faith.

Blondeau, who is also a certified chaplain at a local hospital, thought he could use his training to get the appropriate actions from patients whose bills were delinquent.

“After stating the obvious about outstanding balances that were past due (over 120-180 days), I simply asked the patient if they received the best care possible, and were they satisfied with the care and treatment of our staff as well as the doctor,” Blondeau explains.

“After receiving a positive response, I asked what they thought the medical treatment was worth, what they owed after the insurance had paid their agreed pay (their contracted price to the doctor), and asked, did that seem fair?

“I then asked when I could expect the balance to be paid so that the doctor and the staff could continue to treat them, as well as the rest of the patients.”

Blondeau explained that if every patient treated the doctor as they were treating him the doctor could no longer stay in the medical field and the patient would have to find another physician.

He also assured the patient that other practices would not allow free services for any treatment. In fact, he took it one step further.

“I asked if they knew of such a practice, and that I would recommend they tell all their friends and family to head straight to that practice,” Blondeau says.

The approach has been highly successful.

“I have now signed agreements from over half [of non-paying patients] for a payment program that will pay off their balance within a few months, and several came in and paid off the balance,” Blondeau tells Medical Office Manager.

The approach, he acknowledges, won’t ever be 100 percent effective.

“We will always have patients who cannot pay in full due to financial challenges, but everyone can afford to be honest and let us know how we can help them get the treatment they need—and pay as expected,” Blondeau says.

He adds, “I hope this helps others with their AR.”

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