Knowledge Center

No More Hospital-Based Imaging Says Anthem

Nick McLaughlin, Ridiculously Nice Sales

The Patient Experience is #1 on our list of priorities. It seems that may not be the case for Indianapolis-based Blues giant, Anthem, who implemented a new policy this summer saying that they will no longer pay for MRIs or CT scans delivered at hospitals, unless a review finds it was medically necessary to perform the scan at a hospital. The states effected are Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, New York, and Ohio.

Anthem’s hope is that the policy allows them to keep premiums low, and give patients with High Deductible Health Plans an opportunity to save hundreds of dollars to go to a free-standing imaging center. The trouble with that explanation is that patients already have that option. Those who want to take advantage of it can seek lower-cost imaging services, but Anthem’s broad brush solution of not paying for hospital-based imaging at best limits patients from seeking the services they want, where they want, and at worst sticks their patients who are not familiar with this policy with even larger, unexpected bills.

What does this mean for Americollect clients?

Some patients with the resources and ability to deal with the hassle of this policy will likely seek outpatient-imaging services outside of the hospital setting. This will likely deal a significant blow to an often profitable service line, and hurt hospitals’ ability to offer other important services that operate at a loss. Additionally, there will be patients who go to the hospital for care, receive their normal service there, and wind up with a surprise bill that is not covered by Anthem because of this policy. Many of these accounts will wind up in bad debt, the patients will be furious that Anthem did not pay them, and many will refuse to pay the balances themselves. This is a lose-lose situation all the way around.

What can you do?

As if you didn’t have enough hoops to jump through already, here’s another one: figuring out how to prove medical necessity for Anthem’s imaging patients. There is a lot on the line with this one, so figuring out what qualifies as “medically necessary to perform the scans at a hospital” would be my greatest recommendation. Next, for yours and the patients’ sake, try to run all out-patient services through an eligibility check prior to providing the service. I hate that this now has to be done down the services that are provided, but it seems like that is the requirement at this point.

I have a dream that one day getting paid for providing awesome healthcare services won’t be such a contentious, convoluted mess.

To view our recorded webinars, click here.

What AR “Legacy” will you leave behind?

Shawn Gretz,
VP of Ridiculously Nice Sales

“Can you work my old AR to clean up my legacy system?” It is common for Americollect to receive this call from health systems throughout the nation. The answer is always, “Yes, but“. This article is about that but, the what to consider, and the how to put the patient experience at the center of the legacy AR decision.

System conversions can be a stressful time when your entire operations is about to be put in flux. For a majority of conversions it is not the operations that is the problem because the operation can be tested. It is the people that a system change can affect more. Your team will become frustrated, slower, and all together less productive. Have you ever called your spouse when they are frustrated about something? It normally ends with some sort of transference of that frustration to you. Not intentionally, but it happens. Now let’s put the patient in the middle of that frustration and you have a recipe for lower customer satisfaction scores and loss of revenue do to patients going elsewhere for services.

So, how do you put the patient in the middle of the decision on what to do with legacy AR. Let’s diagnose the problems that I have seen.

 1. Multiple Statements – While system conversions is a great time to make changes to partnerships, it is not the right time to add a level of complexity to your patient experience. I have seen it time and time again on health systems websites:

  •   If your date of service is before X you will receive this statement.
  •   If your date of service is after X you will receive this statement

Multiple statements are the death of patient experience. Imagine getting two statements from your credit card provider because they decided to change systems. It would never happen. It will be easier for your team, easier decision to make, and some statement providers (who will make more money by sending more statements) will even want you to make this decision because it will be easier for them, but you know who it will not be easier for right? Yes, I am talking about the patient. The patient doesn’t want two statements, with two payment plans and two sources of confusion. It is hard enough for patients to understand deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, and out-of-pocket maximums so how does adding another statement make for a better experience?

Solution –  I would highly suggest that you work with your statement provider to find a way to combine both systems into one statement. The “good” partners know how to get this done with the data you provide. It may cost more money in programming for these companies, but it will be well worth the money to keep your patients happy!

2. Multiple Payment Portals – If you are working with separate online portal from your statements or moving toward your new systems portal such as My Chart this can be tricky conversion. I will give you a few suggestions ranked by what I believe provides the best experience to worst.

Solution – My first recommendation would be to pay the extra-money for adding the legacy systems API data to the new portal but this isn’t always possible. My second recommendation would be look external for a partner that can combine both charges for the first year. After one year, legacy systems will be almost completely worked down. There are many services who offer such in a payment portal. It will cost more money for one year, but the patient experience will be there.

3. Live Agents or IVR“Press 1 if your date of service was before X, Press 2 if your date of service was after X.” As mentioned before, this isn’t the best approach to patient experience. Many of your patients will have dates of service before and after, so where do they go? What if they press 0 or what if they have questions about both? This is where the patient experience dies. The patient doesn’t care that you just changed systems; they just want answers for all their accounts in one place.

Solution – Maybe to create a better patient experience, it may make sense to outsource your revenue cycle call center at least three months before go live and maintain that outsource agreement for 9 months afterward. This will allow your team to focus on the system conversion and less on call center operations. You could even repurpose some of your team to help patients understand the changes, upfront collections, financial assistance, learn the system, and/or improve the patient flow. The other solution would be to add staff ahead of the conversion to cover longer call times.

4. Legacy System Shutdown“We are going live 04/01/2017 and we plan on shutting down within six months”. “Ouch” says the patient experience. Patients call in every tax season to request an itemized statement for tax purposes. Medicare bad debt audits will require data in the legacy system. 501r audits may require access to all patients that have received financial assistance.

Solution –  My solution maybe a little late, but maybe the next contract should plan for the next separation with an agreement to host the legacy system and data for seven years. Finally, if all fails, then hire a third party company that specializes in hosting legacy systems.

Conversions are done to create a better patient experience. Don’t let the legacy system start that conversion off on the wrong foot with patients. Oh, and call Americollect if you are open to discussing the “Yes, but” on legacy systems.

 

 

 

Transition from Patient Billing To Guarantor Billing

Nick McLaughlin,
Ridiculously Nice Sales and Business Development

Most healthcare billing systems are great at combining bills from different encounters on a patient or account basis. However, a higher level of customer service can be achieved with guarantor, or household billing.

Allow me to set the scene. Greg and Stacy have three children and the whole family is under Greg’s employer’s health plan. Greg will be the guarantor no matter which child is the patient. In most billing systems, if Stacy brings a child in for an office visit, Greg has a knee replacement, and another child has to visit the Emergency Department, Greg would receive a separate bill for each patient, with none of them reflecting Greg’s total balance with ABC Healthcare. In our experience at Americollect, guarantors like Greg would much prefer to have one, guarantor-level statement with ABC Healthcare. Meaning each statement would include self-pay balances for all members he is the guarantor for in the household. Not only does aggregating the accounts under one guarantor improve the patient experience with billing statements, it improves the patient experience working with your Patient Financial Services Department. Greg no longer needs to bring up each account number with your Customer Service Representative, one-by-one, and add them up to get a total balance.

How To – Guarantor Number Creation

For starters, defining terminology is the first step to take when discussing guarantor billing. Below are common healthcare system terms:

  • Medical Record Number – unique set of digits associated with the patient
  • Guarantor Number – unique set of digits associated with the guarantor
  • Account Number – unique set of digits associated with the date of service

The system you use today may already be using this type of combination. If not, we may be able to help you improve the patient experience through guarantor billing.

The guarantor number in this case is critical to successfully executing this flow. However, at Americollect we understand some healthcare information systems are more challenging to use, and may need more attention to develop. Americollect has designed programming to take common data elements such as name, DOB, and address to assign guarantors and created custom programming to manage, organize, and create a guarantor-based statement. The guarantor then receives a statement once per month on all balances currently in self-pay. If an account is paid in full, we manage their statement cycle, and as the guarantor balance increases with successive services, we work with our clients to customize the best statement workflow for them. Greg and his children will be on one statement. Greg’s wife, since she is her own guarantor, would be on her own. Some organizations manage their guarantors by whomever brings the child in, and not whomever holds the insurance policy. We have seen that process work just as well. Greg receives his proper statements for all his self-pay responsibility and Stacy receives hers.

Result – Improved Patient Experience

The best part is that we have integrated our phone systems and calling workflows to ensure Greg or Stacy have received at least one statement reflecting their current total balance before calling their accounts. We always want to discuss their total guarantor account balance, and create a full-scope conversation to shape the patient experience from the back-end to the front-end. This saves your customers and your team time on the phone discussing multiple accounts at different times, and time is money!

 

 

Emergency Room for Non-Emergent Problem

Shawn Gretz, 
Ridiculously Nice Vice President of Sales

Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) is no longer paying for the boy who cried wolf in four states. You know the old wives’ tale – A bored boy tending sheep cried “Wolf!” to get attention. He did it a second time, and again the village people came to help him. The third time the boy cried “Wolf!” and the boy was ignored but this time the wolf was real and his flock of sheep was eaten. The moral of the story… BCBS doesn’t want patients utilizing the emergency room when a primary care doctor will do!

BCBS in New York, Georgia, Kentucky, and Missouri will be no longer paying for non-emergent use of emergency departments. It is an interesting stick that BCBS is using to try to drive the patient to cheaper options for healthcare.

What does that mean for Americollect clients? I am afraid to say that it is going to mean more bad debts and confusion for patients if you work in those four states. I also feel that this provision is one that could potentially spread to other insurance companies and divisions of BCBS before long.

What can you do? I believe now is the time to start training all registration staff in the emergency department to have the discussion with patients that have non-emergent problems as they leave the ED. Educate them on the options they have for service that would be in their best interest, or they risk paying the charges themselves if the service isn’t covered in the future.

TCPA Language – Are your contracts updated?

Joelle Mark, 
Ridiculously Nice Compliance Officer

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act puts restrictions on how we are able to contact consumers to collect on your accounts.  Some general provisions of the TCPA include but are not limited to; prohibiting calls made to a cell phone with an automatic dialing system without prior express consent and prohibiting faxing, e-mailing and texting unsolicited advertisement without prior express consent.

The TCPA not only affects Americollect, but you as medical providers if you are using an automatic dialing system for appointment reminders, notifications of prescriptions, or anything else.  There are a few ways that you can help protect both your collection agency, as well as yourself, from litigation under the TCPA.  Do not skip trace for phone numbers. Make sure that if a phone number is for “next of kin”, it is labeled correctly, document that the phone number was given to you by the patient or guarantor, and update your admission agreements, online login agreements, and yearly HIPAA sign offs with the following language:

You agree to receive pre-recorded/ artificial voice messages calls and/or use of an automatic dialing device, text messages and/or emails from CLIENT NAME, our partners, subcontractors, or any and all other companies that we may have to transfer your account to at any telephone number or email address that you have provided us or that we have otherwise obtained, which could result in charges to you.  We may place such calls, texts or emails to (i) notify you regarding upcoming appointments; (ii) notify you of results; (iii) troubleshoot problems with your account (iv) resolve a dispute; (v) collect a debt ; or (vI) as otherwise necessary to service your account or enforce this admissions agreement, our policies, applicable law, or any other agreement we may have with you.

 The ways in which you may provide us a telephone number or email address include, but are not limited to, providing the information at account opening, adding the information to your account at a later time, providing it to one of our employees, providing it to our partners, subcontractors, or any and all other companies that we may have to transfer your account to, or by contacting us or our partners, subcontractors, or any and all other companies that we may have to transfer your account to from that phone number or email address. If a telephone number provided to us is a mobile telephone number, you consent to receive SMS or text messages at that number. Standard telephone minute and text charges may apply if we contact you. You may revoke this express consent at any time by calling us at: XXX-XXX-XXXX.

By adding the above language to your admissions agreements, you are taking huge steps help Americollect remain compliant with the TCPA which means an ability to collect more money on your accounts.

For questions, please contact our Compliance Team at 800-838-0100 or compliance@americollect.com

 

 

“Why Are Medical Bills So Confusing?”

Shawn Gretz,
Ridiculously Nice Vice President of Sales

This is a question that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decided to tackle when they released a design contest titled “A Bill You Can Understand.” To view the report and winners visit: http://www.abillyoucanunderstand.com/. The report from the study does a great job of describing the problems patients have with the largest post-service touchpoint, the medical bill. The contest had two prizes: 1. Easiest Bill to Understand, and 2. Process -Transformational Approach to Medical Billing. This article is a synopsis of the problem areas the report found, along with solutions that the contest winners brought forth that we believe have true potential. We will also address what you can do right now to provide “a better patient experience.” (Besides hiring the Ridiculously Nice Early Out and Collection agency if you haven’t already!)

Problem-“Complexity Kills the Payment”

The first problem identified in the report was the complexity of charging for healthcare services. Issues raised in the report include:

  1. Patients are confused by the fragmented care provided by multiple doctors and facilities who all bill independently;
  2. Patients rarely know what they are going to have to pay before a procedure;
  3. Patients do not know where to turn for answers to their billing questions; and
  4. Patients do not understand the denial, appeal, and insurance resubmitting process.

Let me also include that studies show (including one done by www.policygenius.com) that on average patients do not understand deductibles, co-insurance, co-pays, and out-of-pocket maximums.

Problem-“Volume of Communications”

Consider from a patient perspective all the written and verbal communications that a patient receives from one visit. The complexity is mind-boggling to the point that it creates a barrier to payment. The communications include:

  1. Pre-Service – Price comparison, registration, pre-authorization, and appointment reminder – Oh my! Each one of these touch-points have a potential for patient dis-satisfaction. The biggest medical service that has removed the complexity is the one we would prefer to steer patients away from, emergency care. There, a patient can skip this step and just come on in.
  2. Appointment – At the appointment, the volume of communication continues. At the registration desk the annual HIPAA authorization, pre-service paperwork including authorization to bill along with Telephone Consumer Protection Act express consent. Then there is the verbal nurse’s instructions, verbal doctor’s instructions, pamphlets, prescriptions, and written instructions for after service.
  3. Billing – Even after the service, the volume of communication continues.
    1. Explanation of Benefits (EOB) – First come the EOBs with their confusing language of deductible and co-insurance. Add in the coding for the procedures and doctor names that the patient doesn’t even recognize for service. Multiply this by the multiple EOBs for facility, ER, anesthesiology, radiology, or pathology bills.
    2. Statements – Next comes the patient statements that may be come 30-45 days later and not just from the facility but again from ED physicians, anesthesiology, radiology, and pathology. Each of these statements may or may not match the EOB. Let’s take the patient paperless. Great now you need multiple logins from each of the different services to pay for the service. Most emails that I have seen sent to patients do a poor job of describing the services because of HIPAA’s requirements to send a clear communication of who the patient was and what the services were for.
    3. Verbal – Next come the communications with a call center that hopefully is staffed correctly to handle the incoming volume.

    Each and every one of these communications leaves space for the patient to be dissatisfied or choose to seek services somewhere else. Combine with this that the article points out that patient understanding, terminology, timing, and trust plays a role in patient payments.

    Solutions Offered:

    1. Patient Journey Mapping – A solution can only be solved when you state the full problem. In this contest one of the requirements was to create a patient journey map of all the touch points from the patient revenue cycle, and qualify them as either producing a positive or negative experience; thereby stating the problem. I would suggest you try this process yourself. Bring together your team to follow a patient’s journey through the experience you are creating for the patient. Search for those positive and negative touch points and remove the negative when possible.
    1. Deductible and Out-of-Pocket Maximium – The organization RadNet revealed a statement design that included a pie chart with the deductible and out-of-pocket maximum information. Patients who receive a statement such as this may stop looking at the EOB, and wait for your statements to make it less confusing. This information would be available through most clearing houses at the time the statement is generated.
    1. Doctors – Another design change by RadNet was to show images of the doctors next to each itemized charge. This refreshes the memory of the patient making it easier for payment. Along with the images is a QR code that could quickly take the patient to a FAQ spot to describe the service or facility being charged for to explain away the complexity.
    1. All Physicians – A submission by St. Luke’s in Boise, ID brought together all physicians, regardless if they operate independently, onto the statement sent to the patient. Imagine if you could differentiate yourself by making it easier for the patient to pay by sending one statement for the entire service. Many groups and their billing companies struggle to find a way to continue to collect self-pay balances. By combining these charges with your self-pay charges, significant cost savings could occur from statements and phone calls for the physicians.
    1. Terminology – The simplest way to generate a statement is to use the already provided terminology on the charge master. This may also be adding unneeded complexity to the bill. Consider providing the statement company a different table to simplify the language of the charge master into what the patient can understand. Also consider viewing the EOB from time to time of patients to see if the insurance companies terminology matches your terminology.

    These five solutions can all create a better patient experience as does choosing the right partner to implement these. I suggest you look to implement these in the future or journey map your own solutions to the complexity.

    Americollect is looking for partners to build a “Patient Journey Mapping” case study with, including providing early out services for a hospital or health system and their contracted physician groups. The overarching goal being to improve your patient experience.  Let Americollect come on site with our team to map out the current patient experience and redefine the future with you. If you would like to explore this opportunity with us, reach out to Shawn at shawn@americollect.com or 920-420-3420.

Reconsider Having your Collection Agency Send your 501r Final Notice

Shawn Gretz,
Ridiculously Nice Vice President of Sales

Over the past three years, I have had many conversations with not-for-profit hospital clients and potential clients who have asked Americollect to mail the 501r extraordinary collection action final notice on their behalf. Each and every time, I have steered them away from Americollect mailing this letter on their behalf due to liability concerns. Just last year, a court case gave me my “I’m so glad we didn’t do that!” moment for why a collection agency should not send this on your behalf.

Before we dive into the court case, here is a little background on two regulations:
501r: This regulation, governed by the IRS and part of the Affordable Care Act, requires not-for-profit hospitals to provide “financial assistance” to patients. The regulations spell out certain requirements to meet the IRS guidelines. More information on 501r can be viewed at: http://www.americollect.com/knowledge/501r.   One of the guidelines is, if a hospital chooses to do extraordinary collection actions (ECA), which is defined as credit bureau reporting, legal, or judicial actions against a patient, then the hospital has to mail a written (final) notice to give the patient a deadline after which the intended ECAs may be initiated. That deadline must be no earlier than 30 days after the date that the final notice is provided.

In addition, the regulations require the final notice to generally indicate that financial assistance is available for eligible individuals. Also, the final notice must list the intended ECAs the hospital facility may use.
FDCPA: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a regulation that collection agencies must follow. The FDCPA prohibits collection agencies from using “false, deceptive, or misleading representation[s] or means in connection with the collection of any debt.”

So how did these two regulations intertwine together for a court case? In 2016, Nina Flecha filed a class action suit under the FDCPA alleging that a collection agency (that will go unnamed and is NOT Americollect) mailed a final notice with a false threat to sue. Mrs. Flecha’s case is that Seton Medical Center does not allow legal action as part of their ECAs. The unnamed collection agency should have simply updated their final notice, removing legal action from the list of ECAs, and they likely would not have this class action suit filed against them. I believe that in the future there will be more cases in regards to another part of the FDCPA.

Part of the FDCPA says that collection agency communications have to take into account the “least sophisticated consumer.” This standard sets the bar for which communications can occur with patients. Consumer attorneys often sue collection agencies for language that could be confused by the “least sophisticated consumer,” and by having your collection agency mail your final notice. In a future newsletter article, we will address the “least sophisticated consumer” and why understanding this language is important to collecting; whether you are the hospital or a collection agency.

Oh by the way, this still doesn’t address the 501r requirement that, “the final notice must generally indicate that financial assistance is available for eligible individuals.” The conspicuous written notice requirements include that a “direct phone number and website address where applications, policies, and plain language summary” must be included. This is another place where a “least sophisticated consumer” could become confused.

Please, for the sake of your organization, don’t have the collection agency send your final notice as you never want the hospital’s name involved in a court case that could be avoided!

Reporting Pay Directs – Get it Right the First Time

Joelle Mark, Ridiculously Nice Compliance Officer

Americollect is working hard to change the way collection agencies are viewed, in a positive way!  We do this by being Ridiculously Nice and by partnering with our clients to make sure your accounts are accurate.

After an account is listed for bad debt, a patient may send the money directly to you, the medical provider.  If Americollect doesn’t know about the payment, we make calls and send letters to your patient. This may lead to the patient(s) becoming upset or confused and patient satisfaction scores may drop, file a complaint or even a lawsuit due to the collection agency attempting to collect a debt that is paid.  This is not only bad news for the collection agency, but, due to vicarious liability, it could also lead to a complaint or a lawsuit against the medical provider.

We want to do everything we can to ensure we have accurate information in our office as well as keeping our clients safe from complaints.  One of the steps we take to ensure accurate information is partnering with our clients to make it easier for them, too.  Here are some ways that Americollect can help:

Client Connect

  • Americollect offers an online portal for our clients to list, update and follow up on patient accounts. Our Ridiculously Nice Client Relations Department offers a detailed training session when access is requested for Client Connect.

System Access

  • By having access to our clients’ systems, we can do all of the work and make sure payments are reported correctly and timely. This also minimizes the need for us to call or email you for information.

Automated Payment and Adjustment Files

  • Most of our clients have electronic data files that are sent to us daily to automatically report and post any direct payments or adjustments made towards accounts. Please contact kellyr@americollect.com to get this started!

Reconciliation Files

  • Many of our clients send us a reconciliation file weekly or monthly. A reconciliation file is similar to an automated payment and adjustment file, but instead of just focusing on payments and adjustments, it focuses on making sure what we have listed in our office matches what is listed in our client’s office in every aspect.

If any of the above options are something that you have thought about, but did not know where to get started, give us a call and speak with our Ridiculously Nice Implementation Team. They will be able to help you decide which option would work best for you.

What data would be in an ideal payment and adjustment file: Your patient account number or visit number, the date it was listed for collection, the amount of the payment or adjustment, the date it was posted to your system and your balance after the payment or adjustment was posted.  The last item is wonderful to have on an “on-the-fly” reconciliation process.

In the year of 2017, we will be reaching out to our clients who do not have a systematic way to report payments and adjustment to develop a recurring process.  Let us help you improve patient satisfaction scores and prevent potential complaints and lawsuits. Please contact kellyr@americollect.com to get this started!

 

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A Healthy Serving of Patient Experience

Nick McLaughlin, Ridiculously Nice Sales

Not less than ten years ago we had to train our collectors for the common complaint from the patient of, “My insurance is supposed to pay 100%”, but for most American’s those days are long gone. The more likely complaint is now, “How am I going to come up with the $5,000 deductible.” This article is going to dig into the expected “patient experience” as a healthy serving of self-pay has been served up to you by insurance companies. Patients who have never dealt with a health system have an expectation that credit cards, cell phone, cable, utilities and other consumer service centers have created. Will you live up to the expectations and create a “better patient experience”?

Statements

There are more opportunities to screw up the best way to do statements than earn praise for doing a good job. If your statements follow the recommendations of HFMA’s Patient Friendly Billing Initiative, and you send the three monthly statements that 501r requires, you are on the right track. But before we move on from the subject of statements, let us begin the war on over-statementing. Did I just make up a word? Maybe! But you know what I mean. Occasionally, we still run into hospitals that send 5 or 6 statements to each patient before the account goes collections. This is a completely unnecessary waste of money. Almost as bad as that is when a hospital that has just converted to a new system sends their patients one statement for their accounts in the old system, and a separate statement for their accounts in the new system, and the new statement doesn’t include the accounts that are still due in the old system!

Imagine if your credit card company upgraded their system and began sending you two different bills, one for your charges before February 1, when they converted, and one for your charges after February 1… Their customers would be up in arms! The moral of the story is: combine your systems. Patients are screaming for one experience whether they visit your doctor’s office, hospital, or ambulatory surgery center. If your name is on the door, then one consolidated patient friendly statement and payment plan should be established for the patient. We specialize in combining multiple entities and systems into a better patient experience. It will help your patients lower their blood pressure, save you money, and prevent your patients from getting so frustrated they go to your competitor down the street.

Ridiculously Nice Calls

Making timely, friendly (we call Ridiculously Nice) follow up calls, and making them efficiently, is where a huge opportunity to improve the patient experience and cash flow lies.

We recommend starting outbound phone calls to patients 35 days after the initial statement is sent. We have found that calling patients before the first month is up, even in a Ridiculously Nice manner, creates awkward conversations, because patients expect to be given until their due date to pay the bill (normally a month later). Another great reason to start calling at day 35 is because the patient likely received their second statement 2-3 days ago, so it should be relatively fresh in their memory.

After the initial call, we recommend calling every 8 days, excluding weekends, until you get in touch with the patient. The 8 day interval causes you to call on a different day of the week each time, increasing the likelihood of a connection. Once the patient is reached, let the Customer Service Representative decide what the next best action is based on their conversation with the patient (payment-in-full, payment arrangement, try back next Friday because that’s payday, etc.)

I’ve heard some hospitals express concern that their staff might not be treating patients as well as they should on the phone. Call quality assurance is extremely important, which is why we use and recommend a tool called CallMiner. CallMiner monitors every single call for elevated tone, abusive language, right party contact, and many other helpful metrics. It alerts a supervisor if an issue comes up, allowing leadership to help right the situation.

Remember before when we discussed being compared to credit cards, cell phone, cable, and utilities? These markets have experience providing great customer service to keep customer satisfied. Two of the main metric they track in their call center are abandonment rates and/or average time to answer. These two metrics will tell you if your customer service team is providing a better patient experience. Abandonment rate should be under 5% and average time to answer should be under 20 seconds. If you are not meeting these marks, then it is time to ask yourself if you are frustrating your patients.

Payment Plans

Many hospitals leave money on the table by setting up a payment plan with a patient, and then never touching it again, even if it becomes delinquent. There are two very helpful times to reach out to a patient on a payment plan: when that patient has a new balance added to their total, and when that patient misses a payment or pays less than agreed. We set up programming that monitors all payment arrangements in our care, and queues a phone call to either increase the payment plan when a new balance comes in, or catch up on the payment plan if a payment is missed or underpaid.

Conclusion

We have seen phenomenal improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of our Early Out/Self Pay service by implementing these best practices: statement consolidation, follow up calls every 8 days starting at day 35, CallMiner for call quality assurance, and calling patients when they miss/underpay a payment plan or a new balance is added to their total. We hope you can capitalize on what we’ve learned by either implementing these practices in your billing office, or calling us to see if we can help you in that area!

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501r Help is Here!

Shawn Gretz, Ridiculously Nice Vice President of Sales

I hate doing my taxes. First, there is the waiting to receive my W-2, 1099, 1095, and 10-4. The last one isn’t real, but you know what I mean. Then there is the gathering all the taxes documents together and either calling a CPA and waiting a month for an appointment or working with TurboTax to complete your taxes by yourself. The entire process is time-consuming and tedious. The same can be said about 501r. The connection here is that IRS is behind both pains. Well, if you are experiencing pain with 501r, Americollect is here to help.

If you have found the IRS “oral notification” or “final notice” process tedious or time-consuming for your staff to complete, then let Americollect use our dialing technology and relationship with statement provider to send them on your behalf. Here is the painless process:

  1. Transfer File: Transfer a simple file with the patient demographic information to Americollect with all account balances ready for an oral notification or final notice.
  2. There is no two. The rest we will handle.

This takes a 30-minute setup call with Americollect to ask a few simple questions such as:

  1. What number should patients be sent to if they have questions about financial assistance?
  2. What “Extraordinary Collection Actions” do you perform?
  3. Can I have a copy of your plain language summary?
  4. Can you email me a copy of your logo?

For more information about how Americollect can make 501r “oral notification” or “final notice” painless call Shawn at 920-420-3420 or email shawn@americollect.com. For any other questions about 501r, please call or email Shawn above or visit our website at http://www.americollect.com/knowledge/501r/.

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