When you think about the words “compassion” or “kindness,” you probably think first about your clinical care. While bedside manner is critical, the clinical setting isn’t the only aspect of your practice where kindness belongs. What about your billing department?
Approaching collections with kindness and compassion can go a long way toward not only collecting your debts more effectively, but toward building crucial rapport with clients. Here are a few ways to integrate kindness into your medical billing process:
Make the patient feel heard.
To many patients, especially those who are unfamiliar with doctor’s offices and the billing process, the billing process can feel frustrating or even scary. An easy step in making the patient feel more at ease is to communicate to them that they are heard and understood. Using statements like “I completely understand – I know trying to pay medical bills can be stressful” or “That’s really hard – I can imagine how challenging it must be to have had that illness and balance getting your bills paid” can go a long way toward making patients feel comfortable and cared for.
Always assume the best.
The reality is that most patients want to pay their medical bills. They don’t want to be chased down by a collections agency or incur late fees; they simply can’t, for whatever reason, afford to pay their bill. Encourage your billing department to adopt a mindset of assuming the best in patients, assuming that they want the same thing your practice does: a bill paid on-time, in-full. Adopting this mindset creates a compassionate approach. Instead of approaching collections as “You need to pay your bill,” your team will approach it as “How can we work together to get this paid?” Patients will feel like your practice is working with them, not against them.
Make your billing department judgment-free.
It can be easy to slip into the mindset that if someone agreed to receiving services, they should be able to pay for them. Often times, it’s not that simple. Fifty-seven percent of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $500 unexpected expense, according to a 2017 survey from Bankrate. Each person who walks into your practice has a unique set of medical needs as well as financial challenges, and keeping that in mind will help your collections department approach each patient without judgment.