Recently I began re-evaluating the mail I send to my patients. It’s pretty much just welcome letters, recall post cards, brithday cards, and billing statements. That last one is arguably the most important so I took a long look at the thing.
Here’s what my billing statement looked like:
It stinks. If you click on the thumbnail above you’ll see brackets on the bottom of the page that show the aging of the account. I hate that. What do you do when you see a bill that has one of those things on it? You think, “Hey, I don’t have to pay this for a while because they show columns for up to 90 days!” So let’s get rid of the aging columns. You and your office manager should review aging reports internally but there is no need to show it on the billing statement.
The next thing to do is just write a very short and simple narrative that people might actually read. I don’t include treatment detail because it just clutters up the page. A patient can always call and receive their account details. Anyway, at 30 days the narrative is a friendly letter to the tune of, “Hey this may have escaped your attention.” At 60 days we get more serious. At 90 days we announce that the matter is going to be turned over to our collections agency unless we hear from them.
Lastly, I want a prominent call to action to encourage people to pick up the phone and make the payment. I use a little red box at the top of the page that has our phone number. Simple and effective.
Here’s what my new billing statement looks like:
That’s my 30 day letter. Notice that I say that the account is “overdue” and not “due.” That’s because payment was expected at the time of service, therefore the the account is overdue the second they leave my office without paying.
We always review patient payment expecations before each visit so they should know how much money to bring. When a patient is at the check out window and they “forgot their checkbook,” or whatever, then my office manager prints a billing statement with account details and puts it in a self-addressed evelope. She then tells them to write the check when they get home and pop it in the mail. You’d be amazed how well that works.