Is it time to upgrade your medical practice collections efforts?

When patients don’t respond to your mailed statements, up the ante by calling them. If, as so often happens, you get their voice mail, leave a message requesting a return call to the practice in reference to his or her account. Immediately after the conversation (or leaving the voice mail) send a letter to the patient outlining his or her financial responsibility. This final notice of collections letter should also state a specific due date and options for payment.

Often, physician medical practices will send two of these final notice letters 15 days apart. If you send your initial collections letter on regular practice letterhead, try something different for the subsequent one: print it on orange paper cut to fit a non-business-size envelope. Use your practice’s initials on the envelope’s return address (M.P.A., for example, versus Medical Practice Associates), handwrite the patient’s name, and use a regular first class postage stamp. Why these seemingly peculiar efforts? Distinguishing this letter from previous attempts will improve the odds that the patient will actually open it. Use the same content as the first letter, although you can display more urgency in your request by printing an alert that this is the final notification prior to transferring the balance to a collections agency. Again, set a firm due date for payment, mail the letter, and place one final telephone call a few days later. If there’s no response after these two “final” letters and two telephone calls over a period of 30 to 45 days, it’s time to move the effort to an external collector.

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