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Owning the Akwardness of Healthcare Collections

22 Jul 2014, Posted by Cindy Hastings in Uncategorized

Imagine taking a trip to the grocery store with no intention of paying for your goods. You mosey around, get your groceries, wait in line while things are bagged, and then take your receipt from the checkout guy. But the checkout guy never actually states your total or asks for payment, because he knows you don’t want to pay. Instead, he looks awkwardly past you while you quietly gather your bags and leave.

No one does this! But somehow it happens constantly at hospitals and ASCs when it’s time to ask for patient payment.

I understand that asking for payment can be awkward, even though facilities should expect to be paid for their services. Awkwardness abounds when employees having to ask for payment are undertrained and nervous, when doctors are telling them not to worry about it (because yes, that happens) and patients are telling them they can’t afford to pay.
Regardless, services rendered equals payment due. And there are plenty of things your office can do to make this naturally awkward challenge a little easier.

Training:

Sometimes, people just need to be trained in understanding what to say and what not to say. Those requesting payment should never exclaim, “Your insurance stinks! You’re going to owe $5,000.00. No one can afford that.” That doesn’t help your bottom line. Fortunately, there are training courses that will teach your staff effective dialogue and give them basic understanding of human psychology and how it factors into uncomfortable or tense situations.

Policies:

Consistency is key when it comes to collections and payment policy. If these policies change frequently, or if sound policies are never in place, it exacerbates employees’ nervousness when asking for payment because they wonder whether they’re “doing it right.”
Without a policy that tells staff how to request payment and when, more and more patients will pass through your facility without being pressed for payment. Those patients who don’t pay will then tell everyone they know to visit your facility for treatment because, “I didn’t even have to pay.” Don’t own that reputation!

Fight Awkwardness with Awkwardness:

When asking for payment, do yourself a favor: state the account balance and amount due right now then stay quiet. You know the phrase “awkward silence”? People avoid it at all costs. So if you tell the patient what they owe and then stop talking, they won’t let the silence carry on too long, and you’ll have a better shot at a straightforward response.

You’re never doomed to forego payment—you just have to make sure you know the best way to ask for it. So whether you need help training staff or creating policy, give us a call and we’ll chat about best practices. And if your only shortcoming is how to speak up, in2itive can definitely give you some pointers. Just don’t let a fear of awkwardness make you hesitant to ask for what your facility is owed.

Call Jocelyn Gaddie, Vice President, Business Development at 913-617-5088 to learn more.

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