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What is Skip Tracking and How it Improves Medical Practice Revenue

November 11, 2014
Skip_TrackingMedical practices these days are not nearly as lucrative as they once were. Getting every single bill paid is very important to maintaining profitability, but even the most streamlined and effective billing practices won’t help in collecting a debt if the patient cannot be found. A patient may relocate for a number of reasons, be that for a new job, a new experience or even in an attempt to avoid paying debts. For patients who are missing, skip tracking may be the solution to the next step of the collections process. Skip tracking, sometimes referred to as skip tracing, is the practice of finding patients who may have moved since receiving services and have not notified the practice of any new address or contact information. Skip tracking can be accomplished in many ways, but the end result is almost always the same. It leads to the successful collection of a debt that might otherwise go unpaid.
Collection services often employ several methods of skip tracking a patient. This includes contacting other parties with whom the patient may have lived, former employers and other contacts. The goal is to obtain information on the patient’s new address for billing and collection purposes.
One of the easiest methods of discovering a patient’s new address is to utilize the “Return Service Requested” program from the Post Office. Regardless of whether a forwarding address is on file or not, the piece of mail will not be forwarded but returned to the sender with notification of any new address on file or the reason for non-delivery. There is a small fee for this service on all pieces of mail with the exception of First Class and Priority Mail. The words “Return Service Requested” must appear on your billing envelopes.
A bill sent out without the “Return Service Requested” will simply be forwarded to the new address without any notification to the sender. On one hand, the letter may get to the client. On the other hand, if they are attempting to duck the bill, you won’t have learned the new address. That forwarding will go on for 12 months, during which time you will have no idea if your bills are being received or not, and you may not receive any payment. That is why the Return Service Requested program is so important. Taking this simple step will ensure that a practice has the correct address and information to proceed with invoicing and collecting a debt.
Not every patient who cannot be found has purposely tried to “skip town.” Unfortunately, patients may fail to notify every creditor of a move or new address, and without that information it becomes nearly impossible to invoice the patient and collect monies owed.
Related Article: 6 Ways to Improve Patient Collections in Medical Practice

Skip tracking is an invaluable tool in finding patients and resolving outstanding accounts for those individuals who have relocated. And while nobody enjoys being the guy trying to force people to pay their bills, it is a necessary job for practices that want to remain profitable.
For more information on how skip tracking works and other related process improvement please call us at 770-666-0470 or email me at

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