How to Listen to Improve Your Medical Bill Collection
Updated: Sep 29
Most people assume that asking patients for an outstanding medical bill balance frequently is the key to collecting medical debts. But, the best medical bill collectors know that it isn’t just about the number of times you ask. It’s about what happens when you call or meet with patients who owe a balance. Are you listening effectively to ensure a faster resolution?
Great listening skill is a necessity for an effective medical bill collection process. It is needed to understand the patient’s situation and to communicate clearly. It’s also helpful when dealing with challenging personalities and tricky situations. Therefore, it can impact your medical practice’s bottom line. In this post, you’ll learn how to listen to improve your medical bill collection results.
Before you start the medical bill collection process, master these tips to become a better listener and increase the chances of a faster resolution.
1. Don't Just Listen, Pay Attention
Listening is an action verb. So, don’t pretend to listen to patients when discussing their outstanding bill: listen actively! Don’t tune out because you’ve heard similar stories countless times. You need to focus on the conversation to strengthen your rapport with the patient. When a face to face conversation occurs, make eye contact and nod when appropriate to show you’re listening. Also, pay attention to non-verbal cues to uncover the emotion behind the spoken word, taking note of their body language, such as crossed arms and pinched lips. If the conversation is on the phone, give simple responses like “I understand” or “uh-huh.” Check for voice tone, signs of stress and defensive language.
2. Don't Interrupt, Just Listen
In any conversation, don’t interrupt as tempting as it is! Allow the other party to complete their thoughts and say what’s on their mind. Instead, take note of points you want to address and things you want to be clarified. Besides being rude, patients may forget to share something important that could give you an insight into their situation when you interrupt. Just listen and take a pause when they are done to make sure they’re really done speaking. Now it is your turn – comment and ask questions from your note. Of course, you can interrupt if you can’t hear them – wait for a pause or approach with “I think I heard….could you repeat that (or speak slower or louder)?”
3. Recap & Ask Questions
When it’s time to respond, paraphrase and repeat what the patient said. This will make them feel heard and confirm that you understand what they mean. Oftentimes miscommunication occurs because what is meant is not what is said. Recapping is especially important if the conversation is over the phone. Use statements like, “It sounds like the delay is due to...” “What I’m hearing is...” Also, ask questions if you need clarification on any part of what they said. Never make assumptions based on your previous bill collection experience.
4. Empathize, Don't Judge
Empathy begins with engaged curiosity about why a patient hasn’t paid their bill. So, during a medical bill collection process, ask open-ended questions. Questions like, “Tell me why you haven’t been able to pay your medical bills,” “What happened after you contacted your insurance company?” And, when you get their response, don’t judge their actions or circumstances - thank them for sharing. Remember, perceived judgment can come across in body language, tone of voice or your internal biases. Engage your emotional intelligence and be sensitive to a patient’s plight, while making an objective decision.
5. Discuss, Don't Just Talk
Lastly, discuss solutions, don’t talk at the patient. Yes, you’ve handled hundreds of similar situations, and already have a bill collection strategy in mind. However, you shouldn’t just shove your plans on them. Instead, be open to the possibility of a new solution resulting in a beneficial arrangement, meeting both party's needs. Engaging in a genuine discussion to get a unique solution for their unique situation can achieve better results.
Listening is crucial in medical bill collection. Hence, you need a medical bill collector with excellent listening skills for faster medical bill resolution. When you need help with your medical bill collections, reach out to us and enable additional account balance resolution and efficiency.