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02/09/2018    Joel Lang, DPM

Template for Credit Card Collections of Deductibles (Joseph Borreggine,DPM)

I have great respect for Dr. Borreggine’s
practices and knowledge, but do not like the
wording and tone of his “Podiatric Treatment
Plan”.

Though I am retired and practiced podiatry ‘when
Lincoln was a child’, I don’t think people change
that much. I always felt the doctor-patient
relationship was much different from a customer-
business relationship. A relationship with a
patient is much more personal than the one they
have with their home improvement contractor.

Therefore, my documents and forms had a different
(conversational) tone rather than that of a
legalistic relationship. For example, my initial
intake form where patients fill out basic
information of name, address, medical information,
etc. was not titled “Patient Information Form”. It
was titled “Let’s Get Acquainted”. As a financial
planner, my new client form has the same title.

Dr. Borreggine’s form has negative phrases such
as: “Lack of compliance”, “additional charges”,
‘unforeseen complications”, describing what will
happen when bad things happen. It tells the
patient what will happen when the relationship
turns from cooperative to adversarial. The form
should ‘assume’ it would never become adversarial.
All these items can be more positive.

I think that a plan and cost of treatment can be
offered in a personal conversation and payment
arrangements can be discussed personally with the
patient, either by the doctor or by an office
assistant. I was never uncomfortable discussing
fees with a patient.

This form requiring a signature and even a
“witness” signature smacks of legal forms but
actually has no force of law. If the patient does
not pay, you still have to resort to collection
agencies and suits, which does not change with or
without the form.

Another phrase “Credit card information will not
be kept on file, hence a new form of payment must
be provided when services rendered.”, seems overly
legalistic. Who says “hence”?

I might say: “To protect your privacy, we don’t
keep your credit card number, so we may ask for it
whenever you provide an additional payment”. This
indicates a “privacy benefit” to the patient and
gives the impression that required payments are
really their choice.

I can make multiple other suggestions, but in
summary, I think all forms given to patients
should have a conversational tone, as if you are
giving this information verbally. It should not
sound like it came from your lawyer’s office.

Patient acceptance of your care is not primarily
based on your expertise, since the patient has no
way of really evaluating that. People respond more
to a chemistry of connection they feel with you,
their sense of welcome, and the comfort level with
your staff and your office.

Joel Lang, DPM, (retired),Cheverly, MD

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