The cost of medical and healthcare is on a rise and it has surpassed the average wage of an American. According to a recent survey, 30% of medical services are utilized by modern-day patients. Medicaid and Medicare lie in second and third place respectively as the payers of medical and healthcare services.
As a physician or healthcare provider, there is no other way out but to follow the trend and this is where the medical collections letters come into the picture. The reality is that to get revenue that is streaming, the health provider must maintain and deliver a detailed and cohesive medical billing procedure.
To get the revenue cycle steady and without any hiccups, you need to make the medical collections letters very impressive because let’s face the truth, at the end of the day – it’s all business. You need to have income generated against the services you provide in order to stay in the business and keep on treating patients.
According to the American Collection Association, about 63% of the total medical debt remained uncollected. This is why you need to be creative with the medical collections letters so that the patient cannot ignore them and the revenue generation remains steady.
It is essentially important to write effective medical collections letters so that they upgrade your professional stature as well as not become part of your towering debt.
Look at these tips which can help you in writing effective collections letters.
Tips to improve your medical collections letters
1. Catch the attention of the reader
First and foremost, you need to make sure that the letter catches the attention of the reader. This is the technique that is called the 3:33 rule by direct mail marketers. It means that as soon as the reader opens the letter, within 3 seconds he must get attracted to the content of the letter otherwise it will end up in the garbage. The next 3 in the rule define the next 30 seconds which engages the reader completely and compulsively that within the next 3 minutes he plans to make a response to the letter.
So, before getting on the bandwagon of writing a collection letter that is according to the 3:33 rules, you need to outline how you will write and what you will write. Jot down some important questions like
- Will the reader immediately perceive from whom the letter came from?
- Is the letter giving a professional document feel?
- Should personal touches be added to the letter so that the reader will be compelled to reply immediately?
Keep all these important points in mind before crafting your collection letter.
2. Find out the root cause of the problem
Once you have finalized what are the necessary points that must be included in your collection letter, it is important to get to the bottom of the problem. Why is there a need to send the medical collection letter?
According to Brandon Betancouart, who is an administrator at Pediatric Inc, Chicago stated that there can be 4 reasons to write a medical collection letter. They are
- The payer missed the medical bill and hasn’t made the payment
- He is unable to understand the bill
- He cannot afford to pay the bill at once
- Not planning to pay the bill at all.
A medical practitioner will form four different groups to address these kinds of pending bills. Once you know what kind of person you will be addressing in the letter, write according to that.
Another tip is to get an insight about that patient from the medical staff or a physician who gave him the services to know his current address, whether any kind of financial problems is there or illness has aggravated etc.
Get to the root cause and then draft your medical collection letter accordingly.
3. Keep the tone – gentle
Even though the patient has caused a hindrance in your financial cycle you still need to approach him gently to extract your hard-earned remaining amount.
So, you will start your medical collection letter as a gentle reminder to keep the tone down and just make sure that you remind that patient that the bill is still outstanding. Don’t make any kind of threats or intimidations.
Acknowledge his condition, ask about his whereabouts and then tell him to get in touch because any kind of strict or punitive approach might make the situation more difficult and you may never see the overdue payment again.
4. Text first, send a letter later
It is always ideal to make small talks with the patient by texting him before sending the medical collection letter.
The practice of sending texts has generally increased in the market. Physicians tend to send the pending invoices through a test first to their patients and usually, this works and the payments are received almost immediately.
Texts are known to be a noninvasive kind of communication as compared to one on one meetings or telephonic calls. They also have a higher rate of getting responses as compared to snail mail since the phone numbers keep on getting updated at regular intervals as well.
Also, this is the world that is being ruled by the millennials and they are the generation who read texts immediately but may never check their post boxes for weeks or even months. Therefore, texting first is a win-win situation.
While texting, the physician can also add a telephonic link in case the patient wants to reconfirm the outstanding balance or wants to discuss the reasons for the delay in payment. This will also help in improving the strained relationship because of nonpayment and you can understand better what situation the patient is going through.
5. Offer them help
The physician can always offer help or assistance to their patients if they are going through financial turmoil. The physician can offer them assistance by making a simplified payment plan for them. This will be best for them and for the health organizations as well as the money will be retrieved somehow and not all of it will be lost in bad debt.
Offering assistance also demonstrates that the physician or the healthcare organization is concerned about the wellbeing of the patient and is ready to assist them – this will also improve the patient-physician relationship and gratitude will become a part of it.
Sometimes, the patient is going through a lot of financial crises, and handling the situation kindly and sensitively will build a loyal relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider.
Remember a little empathy can mold the heart so always approach with kindness so that the patient knows that his wellbeing matters more than the money.
6. Don’t miss a phone call
If a payer does not respond to the first letter, it is always best to resort to making a phone call the call is necessary and you can keep your tone down and tell the patient that they have not responded to the initial letter and that got the healthcare organization worried about their well-being and to check on that this call is made.
Talk to the patient and once you have gained their trust then talk about the bill which is overdue.
The payer might miss your call as well if he is not planning to make a payment anytime soon then it is advised to send a follow-up collection letter.
This time, use a bit stricter town than the previous one because it is quite obvious that the payer is trying to avoid the payment and to make him understand how important it is to make the outstanding payment, you need to use a sterner tone.
7. Use a template approved by the medical practice
Always use a template for the medical collection letter that is approved by the medical practice as well as is according to the rules and regulations set by HIPAA.
Even if it’s an initial medical collection letter or a follow-up, use a template letter from the medical practice.
It has been observed that the medical organization’s letter template helps in getting the overdue amount settled faster.
Remember to keep the tone polite, direct, and non-threatening when writing the initial medical collection letter.
Once you have tried contacting the patient through text message or a phone call and still no response then you can send a follow-up letter but make sure to use a template from a medical healthcare organization.
Medical collection letters are very important for the financial cycle of an organization to keep moving forward. Keep these tips in mind while writing collection letters but make sure that you have done your homework beforehand.
It always comes in handy if you have verified the eligibility of the services provided to the payer and have double-checked the demographics as well as insurance details of the patient so that you can send out your collection message accordingly.