School prepared you well for the chiropractic skills you would need to help your patients.
They did a poor job in teaching you how to market your practice (build your patient visit base) and in how to run the practice profitably.
Wouldn't it be great if all you needed to do all day were visit with patients while the practice grew and ran itself?
There are consultants who will help you but you still need to know the basics yourself.
As you read this you own one of three practices:
- Not seeing enough patients on a daily or weekly basis.
- Strong weekly billing but limited cash in the bank
- Strong weekly billing and plenty of money to do whatever you want in your personal or business world.
Today we'll talk a bit about #2 – you are seeing the patients but the bank balance always seems to be on empty.
This can be for several reasons. Your fees are too low. Your expenses are too high. Or, maybe you are doing a poor job in collecting the money that is owed to you.
That's the area we want to tackle today – collecting what is rightfully yours.
The insurance part of your practice is the easier portion. Medical insurance billing software, or companies to do it for you, is easy to find.
Again, make sure you buy the right software or engage the right medical billing company.
Talk to your successful chiropractic friends. Don't reinvent the wheel or start with an unknown. You want and need the very best. You need to make sure that you are on a level playing field when you go up against those big insurance companies.
You deserve every last dollar you are entitled to. If you are now doing it yourself but are unhappy with the results, this is a perfect area in which to invest a few dollars.
If the right person or software will bring in tens of thousands of more dollars or even the same dollars but faster, what better way to invest your money?
I can't think of any.
As for the part you collect directly from your patients, it starts with your attitude.
Your fees are fair (if anything most likely too low) and you earned the fees honestly and deserve every penny you have billed your clients.
If you don't believe 100% the above sentence, you have a larger problem that you need to correct first.
Don't be embarrassed about collecting the money. It's yours. You earned it. You deserve it. You need it.
Developing an effective system is truly quite simple. First, spell out the costs … the billing process and the collection expectations with each new patient. Educate them right from the first day.
Be proud of who you are - the services you provide - and realize you have only so many billable hours in the course of any day or any week.
If you don't accept credit cards you should. If you don't ask for monies owed to you, you will not get them. If you don't mail out bills daily or weekly and statements monthly, how can you expect them to be paid?
If you don't make dignified professional collection calls, how can you expect to collect the monies you are owed?
First, put systems in place and write them down. What specifically is explained to each new patient about fees, what they are and when they are due? Who will be doing the explaining and will do it well?
You may even want to consider having your new patient sign a ‘note of understanding' so it's crystal clear from the start.
The longer you let someone fall behind, the more difficult it becomes to collect.
The larger the past due amount coupled with the more passing of time, and the probability of success (collecting the monies) goes from 95% to 5%.
Mail out bills weekly and include something of interest or value such as a health-related article. Of course, remind them always to visit your web site (see the 2nd part of this issue).
Monthly statements (same time every month) go in the mail along with a warm friendly short letter explaining how collecting the monies that are owed to you will enable you to give the same high quality of services you are now giving.
Each week – each month sit down with an accounts receivable (list of who owes you money) aging report which shows who owes you money, how much and when it was due.
Flag those that need gentle (is everything all right) phone calls.
No obnoxious, aggressive collection calls, but rather friendly, “Is everything okay, Mrs. Smith, with our services” phone calls.
It will help collect monies but you will also find out things about your practice you may never have found out otherwise.
A delinquent account can be as much a dissatisfied patient who is about to disappear forever as it is a patient with poor cash flow. Simply asking “is everything all right?” may turn out to be more valuable than you could ever imagine.
People pay their bills based on two criteria.
First is fear of losing the services (we all try very hard to pay our mortgage since we don't want to lose our homes) – the fear factor.
Second is value of the services or product … we feel we are getting more than we are paying for and don't want to lose that arrangement. How fast do you pay for concert or sporting good tickets you really want?
Your patients have to feel that you are the very best chiropractor in town, not just one of ten, twenty or a hundred.
What are you doing every day to position yourself to become the only chiropractor your community residents should want to see?
And your services are second to none. Can you imagine if your patient base considered paying your fees more important than paying their electric bill or car payment?
How hard would it be for you to collect your monies? Not very hard at all.
Again, there are mind set goals you need to work on daily.
If I lived in your town, you'd want me (through your actions, not words) to have come to the conclusion you are the chiropractor of all chiropractors and that in light of the quality of services I am getting, your fees are not only reasonable but need to be paid promptly to insure their continuation.
Again, it's something you need to be working on daily.
If you do implement a professional fee collection system, you will find your bank balances rising with each passing day.
If not, you are in store for more of the same than you are now experiencing.
The choice is yours. Good luck.