7 Questions Healthcare Providers Should Ask in Their Next RFP For a Collection Agency Partner

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Editor’s Note: Ontario Systems, as part of its “Play to Win” Leadership Conference yesterday in Indianapolis, brought together three members from the accounts receivable management industry to share best practices with healthcare providers on how to select, evaluate, and manage collection agency partners. Over the next three days, insidePatientFinance will present a story on each of these steps. In this article , Kevin Lonergan, CEO of Grant & Weber, offers a few key questions you can add to your already lengthy checklist of what revenue cycle managers should be putting into their RFPs.

The Request for Proposal (RFP) process is one of the best ways to find vendors who will best match your needs. By asking a few simple questions, you might gain insight into a potential partner that will help you determine if they would be a good fit.

Before selecting a collection agency partner, “You have to figure out what you want, what you need, and determine if it possible in a collaborative environment,” says Lonergan. Here a few key questions that help guide you toward the right firm for you.

1. What is your company’s culture and mission statement?

The best way to find out if your internal culture will blend with your potential partner’s culture is to ask them. And nothing sums up what a company is all about better than a mission statement.

2. How will you implement your policies and procedures?

Before you sign the contract, you need to know how a potential partner is going to work with you to implement the relationship. “How are they going to execute their policies and procedures?” Lonergan suggests asking. “And if they say they don’t want to provide that to you, ask yourself, ‘Is this who I want to be married to?’” You are entering into a potentially long-term partnership, and that needs to work both ways.

3. Who from my team needs to be engaged?

Most people building an RFP know to ask about potential partners about their leadership and organization structure, but Lonergan suggests you also ask about who from your organization needs to be involved in this relationship and how. Who from your team needs to be engaged — the revenue cycle manager? Someone more senior or junior?

4. What are your tenure and attrition rates?

The RFP process can be valuable for finding out the qualities of the people who will be intereacting with your patients, Lonergan says. “What are their tenure and attrition rates — do they match your tenure and attrition rates? Are they EM better than your rates?” You want to hire people who are better at their job than you are, he says. Otherwise, why bother?

5. How many accounts per FTE?

A nice metric to compare competing responses to RFPs is to ask about the number of accounts assigned to each FTE collection professional. If one company has 4,000 accounts per, and another has 8,000, that will tell you something.

6. When and how often do you conduct HIPAA training?

Every potential vendor will tell you they are compliant with regard to HIPAA and other regulations, but you want to know how much effort the company puts into maintaining compliance. Knowing their training regimen to reinforce regulations will speak volumes.

7. What is the last major piece of equipment you bought?

Ask the vendor what the last major piece of equipment or software they purchased, and also, what is the next big purchase they anticipate and when. If they tell you they purchased a dialer 10 years ago, that will give you a strong indication of their commitment to improvement and technology.

 

Read more:
Part 2: Setting Expectations for Your Medical Collection Agency Partners: 5 Vital Tips
Part 3: Communication the Secret to Successful Relationship with Collection Agency Partner

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Posted in Medical Receivables, Patient Financial Services .

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  • avatar djphelps99 says:

    Evan – while I appreciate your insight and ideas, item 5 is very dated. With technology today you can contact significantly more consumers than ever before, with fewer FTE’s. And many (our current estimate is in the 40% range) consumers wish to make payments WITH OUT speaking to an individual. Web portals, IVR payment tools, etc are becoming the standard way for consumers to set up payment plans, make payments, etc (many are simply too busy to speak with an individual, or too embarrassed).

    I would include speaking with references – current and former clients. Surprisingly most are honest and forthright, and share the pros / cons of working with a vendor. If a vendor is cautious about sharing former clients that’s definitely a flag…

    DP

  • avatar Evan J. Albright says:

    Thanks for your comment, DJ.

    This article (and the two that followed) are merely slices of what were larger presentations. Kevin Lonergan, who spoke on this topic, and his co-presenters also spoke at length on all the topics you raise.

    I would argue that accounts per FTE is an excellent metric, but not one that by itself means anything. As you suggest, if an agency possesses best-in-class communication and payment tools, they will need fewer FTEs. That said, it is incumbent upon the agency responding to the RFP to include details on how their technology enables them to use fewer FTEs to manage a larger number of accounts.

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