Managing Collections During Economic Hardships

Managing collections during economic hardship can be tricky–balancing the need to get paid while maintaining a positive relationship with the patient. These tips can help you professionally navigate collecting past-due A/R.

While many companies are still recovering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, a looming recession continues to put financial strain on both businesses and consumers.

Despite economic hardships, one fact remains: practices need to get paid in order to continue operating. At times, this will include sending patients to collections in order to recoup past-due accounts receivable.

Managing late or unpaid bills during economic uncertainty may require a different approach than you're used to. Before you send patients to collections, make sure you take these steps first.

Tips for Managing Collections During Economic Hardships

1. Be upfront about payment expectations from the beginning

You should already have a strategy in place regarding informing patients how much they owe for services. Stick to it. Many people are hoping for leeway on certain bills due to the economic impact of COVID-19, but gently remind your patients that for essential healthcare services to continue, practices need to keep revenue flowing, and that means billing will continue as usual.

2. Set up payment plans

If a patient is unable to pay a bill in full, help them set up a payment plan. BillFlash PlanPay lets you set up scheduled, automatic payments to be paid over a set period of time. This is the best option for both you and the patient because:

  • The patient has a more manageable bill
  • Your practice is more likely to be paid in full

Setting up a payment plan shows your patients you’re willing to work with them. That’s usually all they need to be assured that you care.

3. Send out multiple reminders

Use whatever resources you have—email, phone, text, mail—to contact patients about balances they owe. Be courteous in your reminders, but firm. Most patients want to pay their medical bills. Often all they need is a simple reminder and an easy way to make the payment.

BillFlash helps you manage all of this during the pre-collections phase to help ensure you are paid as quickly and completely as possible.

If none of these steps work, then it’s time to get collections involved.

What to Include in a Collections Letter

Include all the facts of the visit. This includes:

  • Date of service
  • Service provided
  • Amount patient owes
  • Payment options

Choosing the Right Tone for a Collections Letter

The right tone in your collections letter can do more to ensure payment and a continued relationship with the patient than anything else you include. You need to convey a sense of urgency, but without being overbearing and intimidating.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Empathize with the patient. Simply saying “We understand you may be experiencing financial difficulties at this time” is more likely to get a response than a curt “final warning” threat.
  • Explain why it is important for the patient to pay anyway.
    • Example: Like any other business, our practice relies on revenue to thrive. In order to continue to provide these valuable healthcare services, patients need to pay their bills in full and on time.
  • Offer a payment plan. Give patients one more opportunity to pay their bill in smaller chunks over a period of time to avoid having their account sent to collections.

 

Between inflation and an impending recession, we’re all experiencing additional financial strain. The only way to get through this is to work together. Being upfront with patients about payment expectations and being willing to work with patients who have fallen on hard times will help all of us through this period of economic instability.

BillFlash Integrated Collections Services

As many practices are impacted by labor shortages and high account receivable balances, BillFlash’s Integrated Collection Services is the ideal solution that provides complete transparency throughout the collections process. You determine the rules that flag accounts for collections and can then approve or disapprove the account before being sent to collections; you maintain visibility into collections activities on all accounts; you receive notifications of payment offers by patients; you can establish payment plans; and best of all, payments are deposited directly into your BillFlash Pay Services merchant account as soon as payment is collected. Managing collections during economic hardships (or any time!) is easy with BillFlash.

BillFlash Integrated Collections Services streamline the collections process for you, saving you the headache of working with a disconnected agency. Let us do the time-consuming task of pursuing past-due A/R, so you can focus on providing exceptional patient care. Schedule a demo today!

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