Medenta’s Eleanor Young provides some pointers on how to deal with a patient who has just heard the news that their patient finance application has been declined…
This can be one of the toughest conversations to have with a patient, someone who has built themselves up and is excited to receive what could be life changing treatment, before finding out that their application hasn’t been successful.
It is tough for the patient however it can also be tough on the staff member, as they may have to deliver the news or be on hand to comfort and explain what the next steps are.
If you are now offering patient finance but have a few concerns about this part of the process, don’t get too flustered, here are some of my top tips on how to handle the situation and how to move to the next step.
Approaching the conversation
This is the first big step for both practice and patient and for some it can be an awkward conversation because you’re not sure how the patient will react to the news, however, it is important for you to understand that this will not happen with the large majority of applications.
In many cases when you have the chat, the patient will accept the decision and take it on board, and these will be people who are aware of their credit score and were almost expecting the outcome.
The more difficult discussions you will have will be with those who are surprised and were not expecting the news, but the best way to tackle these situations is to remember to explain three things.
Those are, what has actually happened, the fact you do not know the reason why and the fact you won’t be made aware of why the application has been declined. It is important that you get all those on the table, because otherwise the patient may think you know those answers and the conversation could become a little more difficult.
The next steps
At this point there isn’t an awful lot you can do for the patient, you just need to make them aware of what their next steps are and what is available to them so they can make a decision on what to do.
The option they have available is to email the lender and ask them to provide the reasons for their declined application, and they can also request that the lender reconsiders the decision.
At this stage that is as far as you can go in assisting the patient, even though you might feel you need to help them further.
Top tips for next time
Despite the fact you can’t do an awful lot to help them practically with the next steps, you can be there to comfort them in a tough situation and also point them in the right direction if they express that they might re-submit an application.
If they do tell you they are going to have another go at an application, then here are a few pointers that will give them a better chance of succeeding:
Build credit history – Explain that having little or no credit history makes it difficult for companies to assess their history. This is a problem you will see more in young people or people who are new to the country. Paying bills on time and making more frequent payments are two ways that really help people to build credit scores.
Make payments reliably – Like I have mentioned above, advise the patient that paying their bills on time and in full each month is a sure fire way of showing lenders how reliable they are and how they can handle credit responsibly.
Keep credit utilisation low – Their credit utilisation is the percentage they use of their credit limit. For example, if the patient has a limit of £2000 and they’ve used £1000 of that, their credit utilisation is 50%. Usually, a lower percentage will be seen positively by companies and will increase their score as a result. When explaining this to a patient, let them know that experts say keeping a credit score at 25% can be a real positive when going for a finance application.
It can feel daunting and difficult having this conversation, however, like I mentioned above, this will be a rare occurrence. When it does come around, remember to do the things you can and comfort the patient and just guide them because that is all you can do. Once you’ve done this a few times it will become second nature and the conversation will become a lot easier.