Manange Patient Collections with Compassion
I think it’s fair to say that a lot of providers are really glad it is not their job to discuss cost, payment, collections, or billing with patients. Sure it’s likely not the providers “genius zone” but it is also admittedly an uncomfortable conversation for many people.
When you have dedicated your life to helping people heal, it makes it an uncomfortable situation when it is attached to “if you pay X for services.”
Did you know that your office staff might be equally uncomfortable asking for money from sick patients?
Even if they have the hang of asking for money, they may not have the hang of what to do when the patient says they can’t pay or won’t pay. It might be so uncomfortable for them that it comes out all wrong towards the patients. Even if they have been given the steps and procedures to follow when that happens, collecting payment still requires a particular mindset of compassion and empathy for the patient with confidence in your actions and a dash of duty and responsibility to the practice.
Developing that mindset is a process of training and experience.
Here are 4 steps to ensuring your team is collecting from patients with compassion:
- Policies and Procedures. There must be a frame of reference in place so when X happens Y is the response. This is key for confidence for the staff in charge of asking for payment. It can start with very simple scenarios and move through the more complex scenarios.
- Observe. This is a two-fold piece. Provide a period of allowing your payment collecting positions to observe their role and duties being performed by an experienced and confident staff member. Additionally, routinely observe the staff member after they have taken over their position.
- Role Play. Laying out policies and procedures isn’t enough. Give employees the opportunity to develop scripts around payment situations, this builds confidence and helps them deliver information and requests compassionately.
- Review. Collecting payment is not a “set it and forget it” situation. Staff need the opportunity to review and tweak their scripts and even policies and procedures around payment collection. Be sure to include pertinent staff in policy review and routinely meet to keep issues with collecting payment on the top of the priority list.
When your staff is collecting with compassion and confidence you will see benefits in collections and patient satisfaction.