With the current economic downturn, expect your accounts receivable to increase -- maybe dramatically.
With the current economic downturn, expect your accounts receivable to increase -- maybe dramatically. Before the number and size of your accounts grow beyond practice norms, do the following:
Why consider a collections agency? For starters, your staff are not professional debt collectors. “Many physicians don’t run the office for a good reason: We’re doctors. Yet, because many physicians don’t want to give up a percentage of their fees, they utilize their staff as collectors,” says Jeffrey Hausfeld, a former otolaryngologist and the current managing partner of FMS Financial Solutions. Some of the problems this thinking can lead to are:
Physician reluctance to use collection agencies has waned as patient debts have dramatically increased. But with hundreds of medical collection agencies to choose from, it may not be easy to choose
agency that’s right for you. When looking for a collection agency, consider these two important factors:
After you’ve outsourced to a collection agency, don’t dilly-dally with handing over past-due accounts. The longer an account remains delinquent, the harder it becomes to collect. Often, staff will hold off on notifying a physician of an account’s delinquency until it is 90 days overdue. But when you add these extra weeks for the physician to approve collections, you decrease the chances you’ll every collect on the account. Put office procedures in place to avoid such bottlenecks. It is also a good idea to appoint somebody in the billing department to act as a liaison with the collection agency should any problems arise.
Take the time to review accounts that have been sent to collections, and know your agency’s collection rate. In a recent survey my consulting firm conducted, 17 percent of respondents had no idea how much their collection agency actually collected! Taking an hour to review past-due accounts may be the most profitable hour you spend on business issues.
Karen Zupko is a seasoned senior advisor who has been helping physicians to navigate America's healthcare system since 1974. Her perspective stems from more than 25 years of consulting, coaching, and training experience with physicians and those who manage them. She is a member of the American Marketing Association and Women in Communications, and has served on the board of trustees of Chicago's Grant Hospital. Karen is a graduate of the University of Kansas and a Chicago native. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.