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Sometimes, despite having a good communication line and efficient collection strategies, you can't avoid having some unresponsive patients at some point of your practice. Dealing with unresponsive patients can be both stressful and annoying, in a sense. You want to get paid for the excellent service you provided but you don't want to ruin the relationship that you have with your patients by turning into a third party collection agency or perhaps by bringing things into the legal arena. You surely don't want to stain your good image which you have worked so hard to build for years.
Say it's already been over a month since your patients received the invoice but you still have not heard a word from them, what shall you do? Consider these helpful suggestions if you are in the same situation.
Send another invoice
There is a possibility that your patient had overlooked the invoice or perhaps had forgotten about it for some reasons. Try sending another invoice just to make sure he is reminded of his due.
Call your patient
If the second invoice has been dispatched and a week have already passed without a word from your patient, it is time to get in your phone and break your silence. When calling, do not directly demand the payment. Instead, calmly ask why the due has not yet been settled. Your patient might have his reasons. Just listen to what he says and then repeat the concern that your patient raised to confirm that you clearly hear and understand it. Then try to offer a possible solution and make an agreement. This will help both of you to resolve the issue together without leaving a dark hole in your relationship or your practice.
Check your patient's other contact information
Let us say that you have already mailed a few invoices and have tried calling your patient through phone but to no avail. The next thing you can do is to check your contract and your patient's details and see if there are any other ways to reach him. It can be through email or personal mobile phone.
Remember not to talk bluntly about the unpaid bill when sending an email or when leaving a voicemail as there might be other people reading the mail or listening to the voicemail. That can be a ground for an invasion of privacy and you don't want to be charged for such, do you?
Follow up, follow up, and follow up
Don't just send an invoice and leave a voicemail or email and then wait silently in one corner afterward. The key to successfully establish contact with an unresponsive patient is to be consistent and persistent. Send an invoice again after a week or so, and then leave an email or voicemail. Do it alternately to make sure that your concern has reached your patient.
Be specific in your notice
When writing the invoice or the notice, make sure to be as specific as possible. Instead of using the calendar dates, try using the "number of days" strategy in making the deadline. For instance, instead of saying "on or before 30th of July", write the deadline as "within 5 days". And then clearly state the consequences that the patient may face if he misses the 5-day allowance. This will help nurture a sense of urgency on the end of your patient.
Seek help from a third party collection company
If you think you have already done everything and have used all possible means to contact your unresponsive patient, and 60 days or more have already passed but you still haven't heard anything from your patient, you have no other choice but to seek help from a third party collection company.
Make sure to notify your patient first via mail about the matter and allow a 15-day grace period before finally contacting the collection company.
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