Editor’s Note: This article is the second of a two-part series by Chuck Seviour. Part one can be found here.
Realizing that successful collections require a staff that understands its goals and objectives and has the skills to handle difficult situations and negotiations with patients is essential. Training your team requires continued study and a positive attitude.
We are not dealing with patients of yesterday! Today’s economy combined with the unsettling numbers of uninsured and underinsured make it all the more important to handle patients in a manner that allows for a win-win situation for the patient and the facility.
Courtesy, compassion, dignity, and respect are required when making any contact with patients. In many cases, this is the first time a patient has received a phone call from a clinic or hospital. A caring, compassionate tone is not only the right thing to have with patients who are struggling with payment, but it is the most effective way to effect a positive outcome for both the patient and your facility.
Also, don’t forget to gather patient information and identification, as well as an understanding of a patient’s present financial situation, which will be key to a successful resolution.
The facility that does not maintain the following seven strategies will continue to scramble for self-pay dollars:
- Staff needs scripting for standards and expectations of the management team.
- Staff must role-play extensively in preparation for objections and patient disinterest in paying the bill.
- Phone calls should be concise and last no longer than 5-7 minutes.
- Train staff to be consistent with follow up after initial calls and hold the patient accountable for mutually agreed upon requirements during phone calls.
- Questions during the initial call must be clear enough to enable the team member to determine the likelihood of the patient cooperating.
- Telephone follow up should be specific in terms of expected payments and the time frame for each.
- Policies/procedures and expectations must be clearly and effectively stated to the patient.
The amount of education and training you provide your patient financial services counselors will in turn better equip them to provide the training to the person who needs it the most–the patient. The more you educate your patient base, the better your financial return.
About Chuck Seviour
Chuck has over 40 years of healthcare industry experience ranging from Director of Business Office Operations for a large health system to consulting with more than 150 hospitals for a major accounting firm. Chuck has been Vice President of Revenue Cycle for Array Services Group since 2004.
Array Services Group and its three innovative business units – CareCall, ProSource and J.C. Christensen & Associates – offer professional services in call management disciplines, accounts receivable and revenue cycle management, empowering clients for immediate and future success.