Imagine you come home late from work, toss the mail on a table, make dinner, eat and by then, forget about the mail. The next day, you see the pile of mail and open it. You are not surprised to see a bill from the hospital. After all, you remember that stressful night in the emergency room. But the statement is confusing. How much do I actually have to pay? You put it back on the table and tell yourself you will try to figure it out tomorrow.
Suddenly, two weeks go by.
You remember wanting to call and ask questions, so you find the phone number on the bill only to discover the office is closed. Frustrated, you shove the bill in your bag, planning on calling during your lunch break at work tomorrow. That bill stays in the bottom of your bag until another bill arrives in the mail, this one saying it is now overdue.
This is just one scenario. Maybe your patient likes to pay by check and keeps forgetting to buy more stamps. Or they prefer to pay bills online and are upset that the only option is to pay via mail. Or they cannot afford to pay the entire bill and don’t know what to do.
The list of reasons a bill goes unpaid is endless.
With 55 years of experience, Credit Management Company knows that the design of a bill can result in faster payments by patients. Here is a step-by-step plan you can follow to help ensure prompt payment.
Five Steps to Design a Bill for Prompt Payment
- Highlight the amount due. We’ve seen too many bills that at first glance, are just a jumble of numbers. An account number, a billing code, a service date and a payment balance all appear on the statement. However, nothing stands out. Use different color ink or boldface type to draw the patient’s eye to the essential detail—how much is due and when.
- Provide options. A study done in 2018 found that slightly over half of the dollars spent on paying bills was done electronically. So, let patients pay whichever way they prefer - by check or online. You need to make it as convenient as possible to get the result you want. You can even provide a way for people to pay from their smartphones, such as a QR code.
- Provide flexibility. Even before the pandemic increased the number of unemployed people, many individuals struggled to pay all of their bills. Give your patients the option to arrange a payment plan and make that information easy to find on your bill. If they don’t know they can make payments, they might not think it’s possible to do so. That could force a patient to look at the amount, think “oh well, I can’t pay that much” and feel defeated, resulting in an overdue balance.
- Explain the charges. Nothing upsets a person more than receiving a bill they don’t understand. While someone inside a healthcare organization may know the meaning of billing codes, the average person does not. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes - would you pay a bill that you don’t understand? Make sure it’s easy to find your phone number and have the option for patients to contact you in the evenings and weekends.
- Use a friendly tone. Remember, you can catch more flies with honey. It’s true - a harsh tone will anger your patient. Strive for language that is courteous and offers ways to help them make a payment. For instance, look back at the scenario at the beginning of this blog. That patient had good intentions but life—and a poorly designed bill—proved to be a stumbling block to paying the bill on time.
More Ways to Encourage Bill Payment
This is just one way to turn outstanding accounts receivables into cash as quickly as possible. Our First Party Accounts Receivable Management service uses several techniques to help you obtain payments from patients. We’re proud of the relationships we’ve built with our clients and would love to explain all of the ways we can improve your revenue cycle. Please contact us and learn how we can help.