3 Tips to Keep Patient-Payment Collection Humming Along

collect payment at the front desk

Filing third-party claims is a big part of the business of medicine, but collecting payment from patients is also crucial to a healthy organization. There are challenges, though. Check out these tips on steering clear of problems and on handling those issues that do come up.

1. Have a Policy and Let Patients Know

You can prevent a lot of stress and confusion for both your team and your patients by having a clear policy about payment. You want to be sure patients understand that policy and that you follow it consistently.

Set the tone by collecting appropriate payments at check-in so patients know payment is expected and part of the routine of a visit. Depending on the services you provide and the nature of your practice, you may decide it’s worth the time to contact patients before appointments to explain payment expectations and to give the patients a chance to ask questions.

2. Train Staff to Focus on the Big Picture

When it comes to collections, there has to be a balance with maintaining patient relationships. Experts advise tactics like these:

  • Include payment collections in relevant job descriptions to be sure you’re working with a team that knows this is part of the job. During interviews, you can get a sense of whether the person will be able to handle the task in line with your practice’s philosophy.
  • Don’t get into loud confrontations within earshot of other patients. Arguing with a patient over a $20 copay doesn’t make financial sense when you consider that other patients may be listening and opt not to return because they’re uncomfortable with how your practice handled the situation.
  • Use e-billing so it’s easy for patients to pay balances due. You’ll likely have faster turnaround, too. If you’re just starting e-billing, offer patients an FAQ sheet that will ease patients’ minds about data security.
  • Make contact by phone to discuss overdue balances to keep the personal connection and start a discussion about working together based on the patient’s particular circumstances.

3. Consider Getting Outside Help

If your staff is spending too much time and energy on collections at the expense of other priorities, it may be time to work with an outside firm. This may mean sending certain accounts to a collection agency. Choose the agency carefully to be sure you’re comfortable with their approach. You also may opt to find a group that specializes in medical patient private-pay billing and debt collection to automate the billing and debt collection cycle.

What About You?

Have you faced challenges with collecting payment for medical services? What solutions did you find had the most impact?


Deborah works on a wide range of TCI SuperCoder projects, researching and writing about coding, as well as assisting with data updates and tool development for our online coding solutions. Since joining TCI in 2004, she’s covered the ins and outs of coding for radiology, cardiology, oncology and hematology, orthopedics, audiology, and more.

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