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Asking Patients to Pay Up Front


Dear Sharyn,

I’m an office manager and I’m completely overwhelmed with managing patients’ insurance and then following up with patients who have a balance. I have no time to do anything else. We want to move to a pay-at-the-time-of-service system so that I can free up some of my time. I feel okay about telling this to new patients but how do I tell our current patients who have been coming to us for years that they now have to pay me when they’re in the office?

J.S., KS

Dear J.S.,

The best way is to talk with these patients when they’re making their next appointment. Focus on the benefits of the new system.

“Hey Patient, I want to give you a heads up about a change we’re making with our payment process. So that we can keep our admin costs down and your fees as affordable as possible, we’ll be asking for payment at the time treatment from now on.  Your treatment next time will be XXX. We can make a financial arrangement for that if you like. Is this something you’d like to arrange?”

If the patient has a Scooby Doo moment, (Ruh Roh) and looks at you like you are ruining their life, you can add:

“We want the new payment process to be as seamless and easy as possible for you and for us.  Because you have insurance benefits, you’ll just deposit your reimbursement from them without having to worry about getting a bill from us and then finding time to mail us a check. This will also free up our time so that we can focus more on providing great care for you. How does that sound to you, Oh Patient?”

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Inspired Us to Dream Bigger, and it Works

“As an Office Manager, I’ve seen a great difference in my practice since starting with Sharyn. Three years ago our staff was in turmoil with a lot of infighting and gossip and some jealousy directed towards me.

I had given up because everything I did was judged. Now I have learned to have more one-to-one communication and by being more vulnerable with individuals I found my leadership voice. As a team, we’re all focused on the same goals.

Last year, in August we produced $88,000. This year we’re on track to produce $111,000 this month. I know it’s because we learned how to follow through with patients and communicate our expectations while building our systems.

Sharyn has gotten us out of our comfort zone and inspired us to dream bigger and it works.”

–Sharon St Pierre, Sperbeck Dental Care

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