Collecting payment from people who fall behind on their bills is generally the same across most industries. But healthcare collection is a little bit different because of the reason people are seeking that service. Someone might carelessly run up credit card debt for things they don’t need, but no one asks to get sick or go to the hospital. Most of us spend a lot of time trying to avoid it!
We know that medical debt is not a debt of choice, and we empathize with people in this situation, but hospitals and doctor’s offices have to operate and keep payments coming. So here are some tips for handling collection in healthcare.
Empathize and Provide an Exceptional Patient Experience
You likely didn’t get into the business of healthcare to collect money. Your goal is to help people, even if that means helping them to establish a payment plan or to resolve their financial obligation for the care they have received. Hold on to that empathy, and assume patients want to pay. We stand by The Collector’s Pledge created by the ACA, which keeps our team positive on every call.
The Collector’s Pledge: I believe every person has worth as an individual. I believe every person should be treated with dignity and respect. I will make it my responsibility to help consumers find ways to pay their just debts. I will be professional and ethical. I will commit to honoring this pledge.
Beyond empathizing with them, the key to establishing a connection and providing a great experience is simply to listen to the patient. More often than not, people just want to share their situation. Give them a platform to be heard, and use the information they provide along the way to assist in resolving their obligation.
Use tools to make sure team members are treating patients with respect. While you can champion the right attitude in your team, you’ll also want to confirm that message is sinking in. Speech analytics tools, such as CallMiner, give you the ability to audit 100% of patient collection calls – both inbound and outbound – and can identify keywords and phrases in every conversation to make sure your representatives are maintaining a positive collections approach.
Become an Advocate
Create an environment in which your collectors feel empowered to become advocates for the patient. The patient experience has a significant impact on the healthcare revenue cycle. (Don’t believe us? Take it from Michelle Spencer, Patient Advocate for West Chester Medical Center.)
You want to set up or create win-win situations so people can take care of their unexpected debt. A person with a sudden hospital bill is altered, due to the nature of what has happened. That healthcare visit was for a reason, and some are quite serious. Find ways to make it easier to pay. Establish a realistic payment plan if payment in full is not possible by collecting a down payment and then monthly payments based on their budgetary requirements. How can you empower advocacy? Offer training, establish clear objections, and provide tools for success.
Could your hospital, health system, or physician practice use a hand with recovering past due patient accounts? Revco Solutions can help.