Medical bills are often some of the last items to get paid, but failure to pay doesn't always indicate unwillingness to pay. With the right past-due reminder, you can set proper expectations for payment in full, or set up payments that don't upset patients and keep your relationship with them strong. In our industry we have found that writing a proper past-due reminder notice is vital to reducing the age of your invoices and maintaining a positive relationship with your patients.
Keep it Concise and Professional
You don't need something long and drawn out that presents a wall of text. In fact, the longer the letter, the less likely recipients are to read the entire communication. Don't waste your time writing something too long, and don't waste your patient's time. Your entire collection letter can probably be summed up in about 4 to 6 clear, easy-to-read sentences. The longer your letter, the more likely it will be ignored or pushed off, so keep it short.
To be concise without losing quality, a past-due letter should include the following:
Explain the reason for the letter in the first sentence
Suggest communication to work out a resolution and timeframe
Direct patients to payment channels
Thank the patient
Avoid Threat Letters
While it is true that outstanding collections can lead to dings on a patient's credit report or even a judgment surrounding the debt, threats are not an effective way to engage with patients about past-due bills. Consistent action is the best form of communication. If you do not intend to follow through with an action, you should not write or say it. For your initial contact, you simply want a succinct reminder and request for resolution, not a threat. Send your letters in a regular progression of:
Original Balance Statement
Respectful Final Request for working out a reasonable solution
The final request notice might contain a mention of next actions steps, which can include that the debt may be sent to collections if it is not resolved. The difference between a threat and a statement of details of next actions is in the timing and intent. Ultimatums are just obstacles to communication and a favorable outcome.
Make Payments Easy
Ask for payment in full, listen and work with their circumstances, but end with a clear expectation. Once you have established the terms of repayment, make sure patients have a convenient way to make payments that is detailed in the letter. If you can, offer online and mobile payment options, in addition to paper remittances. For your paper payments, include a self-addressed payment envelope that already has all of the correct postal information. The easier you make the payment process, the more likely your patients are to send a check or electronic payment.
Following consistent standards when writing a past-due reminder is the best way to effectively reduce your outstanding invoices. Reach out and we can customize a notice to suit your needs.
Tavelli Co., Inc. has over 37 years of unparalleled experience in the debt collection and receivables management industry. Our mission is to achieve the right balance between getting clients paid and being empathetic to debtor circumstances, through implementing innovative practices, hiring experienced people, and improving business decisions through analytics. We provide peace of mind to all involved by collecting money with no complaints. Tavelli Co., Inc. takes the time to carefully listen to your customers and share their feedback with you through meaningful data and transparent communication, so you have access to the information you need to make quality decisions and improve your processes in the future. Contact us today and let the debt collection experts at Tavelli Co., Inc. help you set your business up for success.
IMPORTANT: Information provided by Tavelli Co., Inc., any employees of Tavelli Co., Inc., or its subsidiaries is not intended as legal advice and may not be used as legal advice. It is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of the law in any area, nor should it be used to replace the advice of your own legal counsel.