At the beginning of May 2016, we changed the way that we send out reminders about accounts. Traditionally, we would print them out and then post the paper statement to everyone that had an account. The statement would specify the amount and if the account was later than 30, 60 or 90 days overdue, then an appropriate message would also be included in the envelope.
The reality is that we do occasionally have accounts where we are left with no choice other than to refer them to debt collection. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. However, in order to be able to legally refer a debt to a debt collection agency, the debtor has to be notified at the time that the debt is incurred that non-payment may result in debt collection and that they will be liable for all collection costs. That is why we have signs in the waiting room and why the warning also appears on our statements and invoices. There is also a reminder that an admin fee of $10 is added to any account not paid on the day. There are some circumstances where this can be avoided.
With the availability of technology and internet access these days, many of our clients are choosing to pay their accounts online, some via regular automatic payments and others paying in full online.
We are slowly but definitely embracing greater use of technology systems and tools and aiming at becoming a more environmentally responsible and sustainable practice. One of the first steps is to reduce the amount of paper that we use. we will begin this through utilising texting and emailing to communicate monthly statements specifically to those clients that have their cellphone numbers or email addresses registered in our system.
As with the traditional paper system, this method will not recognise if the debt is fresh or 3 weeks old. If you created the debt on the 31st of the month, the reminder text/email –statement (or paper statement) will be generated within 1 -2 working days from then.
Eg: A patient sees our clinicians on the 25th of the month and arranges to make payment at a later date. When we review the outstanding accounts “as of the end of the month” we see the outstanding amount and then send out a statement accordingly. That statement will also contain the necessary details so that the client can make payment online and below that there will also be a reminder about the consequences of not paying the debt. (That reminder is generic and is not targeted at any one person. It gives us the ability to collect debts that are outstanding)
In the initial trial of this system, there was some consternation caused, as it was not explained in advance, and in the texts that we sent it was not specified that the warning about unpaid accounts was generic and not aimed at any one person in particular. We do apologise for any offence caused by this, but also remind all clients that like all medical centres in town, payment is expected on the day of treatment.