Why are medical collection letters important? What’s the secret of writing a medical collection letter?

Repercussion fears howl all the way long when files get stuffed with unpaid bills. Receiving post-due notifications when you’re not able to pay them is quite a pummel at the back.

Collecting payments is not a cup of tea, especially from patients who are habitual of releasing cash late or just forget to pay.

Looking at it from the collector’s perspective, a business wouldn’t be able to remain operational if it has no money to pay its bills. Collectors, for this reason, are compelled to take stern routes and write medical collections letters to patients who have been taking medical services from their practice.

As a medical practitioner, it’s high time to figure out how to prevent overburdening yourself with unpaid debts, outstanding payments and reduce chances of being obliged to write medical collection letters. For this purpose, we must first make an effort to  understand why patients fail to pay the bills on time.

Why don’t patients pay their bills on time?

According to a McKinsey survey, about 98 percent of the clients want to pay off their bills on time, but often any of the following reasons forces them to delay or avoid making a timely payment:

  • They get puzzled when receiving the bill and are left confused regarding the amount they actually owe.
  • They cannot afford to pay the bills.
  • They forget to pay the bills and never receive any reminder from the collector.

An aggressive payment collection letter would definitely not work on the 2%, who don’t want to pay their bills. Rather, they may begin to resist your demands. Regardless of how tactfully you have drafted the letter, it is sometimes impossible to convince such folks.

When your invoices are a major concern, then you should deal with your patients without aggression. Under such circumstances, it would be advisable not to burn the communication bridge, neither make your patients feel bullied.  To achieve this, you would need to hire a medical collection service or learn how to write a persuasive collection letter.

How to write medical collection letters?

For the collection of your bills, keeping a positive communication strategy is the key. Medical collection letters play a major part in recovering your payments.

The first collection letter should be sent right after the invoice gets due. With every passing day your stress level tends to increase when your patient doesn’t pay your bill. Therefore, when you write a second letter, the content should be different as you do not need to maintain the same tone with patients whose payment is overdue by 10-20 days vs. those who haven’t paid even after 90 days.

If the payment has been delayed later than that, then you need to analyse the situation and the period in which you are sending the letter. The next part of our blog may serve as a guide for those writing collection letters for the first time.

final notice

How to write the first collection letter notifying passing of the due date?

Keep in mind that the official letter should not be the first notice when you remind your patient for the invoice clearance. Prior to sending the collection letters, other communication mediums should be used to remind about the payment and to notify that the invoice would be due after the upcoming date. As soon as the date has passed, a collection letter should be sent.

When drafting your first collection letter, you must necessarily add the following in your letter.

  • Number of days past due
  • The total amount that has been due
  • Notification about your previous attempts at the collection reminders
  • Summary of accounts
  • Instructions indicating what they have to do next
  • Next due date – To make it precise, mention the actual date avoid writing ‘in next business days’
  • And of course, contact information

Other than these pointers, decide the tone you want to establish. A friendly reminder for the collection must convey urgency stating the consequences – without intimidating. As if you’re writing your first letter, using threatening or warning tones will make patients lose trust and probably make them feel bullied. Most importantly, intimidating letters do not always convince clients towards payment.

You might be wondering how can you make a statement reflecting your seriousness to get back the payment, without seeming too harsh?  Let me answer this, you can incorporate messages in your letters such as – “We are aware of the fact that you may have financial difficulties but, we depend on the payments we get from our clients to provide quality healthcare services on time.”

Additionally, stay focused on the facts. Instead of mentioning that your patients have to see an attorney after a certain number of days, stick to reminding them facts.  Let them know how much they have to pay and contact them for help if they get confused remembering what their bill covered. Help them in making payments easy rather than mentioning consequences.

Draft more than one collection letter

To draft more than one collection letter means to write personalized letters for 20 as well as 60 days past the due date. The first letter is just to set a friendly tone with a soft reminder as if checking what the client thinks about the payment. For the patients not turning up after being notified through several attempts – you need to be a bit more firm. Giving the exact date for the payment for example; ‘If the payments are not received, or we do not hear from you by April 5th, 2021, we would have to consider alternative actions to recover payments’.

Thus, focus on proven strategies to get your payment back and develop a positive and healthier relationship with  98% of your clients. For them, your persuasive letters will work, or just conversing on the phone call may bring out a suitable financing option.