According to data collected from a 2016 Athenahealth study, 93.8 percent of patient balances that were $35 and under were paid within a year of treatment, but 66.7 percent of balances over $200 were never paid. The lead researchers analyzed 5.4 million visits, 3.1 million patient interactions, and 51,000 healthcare providers. The bottom line: healthcare practices need to tighten their collection practices.

If you are having a hard time collecting on outstanding patient balances, our team here at Cloud Willis & Ellis understands your frustration, but we also want you to know that you are not alone. Expense aside (because, let us face it, medical care is expensive), there are several reasons your patients are not paying. A few of those reasons may have to do with your debt collection practices. If you are tired of treating patients for free, call our creditors’ rights attorney to discuss your legal options today. In the meantime, keep the four tips shared here today in mind.

Train Front Office Personnel to Think Like Retailers 

When you walk into a grocery store, clothing boutique, coffee shop, or any other place of business, you do not expect to pick up a product and walk out without paying. On the one hand, you are trained not to do that. On the other, someone, such as a retail associate or manager, will stop you, as it is their job to make sure that you pay. Train your office personnel to think like retail associates. Have them collect on outstanding balances at the time of service, and if they do not, hold them accountable.

Offer Payment Options 

Again, think like a retailer. A lot of your patients probably are probably more inclined to put a couple hundred dollar item on credit than they are to pay for it in full, and not because they want to hoard their cash, but simply because they have other financial obligations to take care of. Medical bills are necessary but expensive, and a lot of people simply cannot afford them. Make it easier for your patients to pay their debts by offering flexible payment options. A person is likely to be more inclined to pay a $50 monthly bill for six months than to make a $300 payment in full at a single visit.

Make Payment Easy 

According to the same Athenahealth study mentioned above, practices can increase their collections at the time of service by 40 percent by allowing patients to pay through online patient portals and PayPal. The study found that even just handing a tablet over to the customer that details their account balance at the time of service also increases the number of payments made. Researchers believe this is because it takes away the “shame” element of having an outstanding balance.

Beef Up Your Contracts 

Finally, you can avoid payment headache altogether by making it clear in your patient-doctor contracts that you expect payment at the time of service, or partial payment upfront and the remainder of the payment within x amount of days. Include consequences of non-payment in the contract as well, such as termination of the doctor-patient agreement. Humans are more inclined to respond to consequences and to keep up their end of a bargain if they think that failure to do so could have negative repercussions.

Consult With a Creditors’ Rights Attorney 

Owning a healthcare practice undoubtedly comes with its fair share of advantages, disadvantages, and conundrums. For instance, on the one hand you want to uphold your duty to care for a patient, but on the other, how many times can you provide services to a person who refuses to pay? A skilled creditors’ rights attorney at Cloud Willis & Ellis can help you cover each possible scenario and implement solutions to mitigate each. Though it may take some time, you may be able to reduce the number of outstanding debts in your practice and start generating the income you deserve.