The unpaid medical debt in the U.S. is on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic. With these mounting unpaid bills, several hospitals are struggling to streamline their cash flow to pay health care employees, suppliers, rent, and the several other costs associated with a medical practice. According to a report by Stanford, American citizens have a whopping $140 billion in outstanding medical debt in 2021. So, if health care organizations aren’t proactive about patient collections, they can easily find themselves saddled with delinquent accounts and bad debts. Collecting debt from patients is a delicate process; making a wrong move leads to loss of revenue and leaves a negative impact on your brand. Therefore, a medical firm must have an effective patient payment strategy to streamline workflow and maximize collections. Here are 5 common mistakes that can occur in a medical firm’s collection process and how we can avoid them to maximize patient collections.
Mistake #1: Not showing empathy
Empathy is crucial in debt collection, especially when it comes to collecting from patients. Understanding the patient’s financial condition and reaching them personally in a caring manner has improved the success rate of collections. Whether the patient is worried or having an ill attitude, you need to hold your best manners and take an empathetic approach. Sometimes the tone of voice or the assistant’s attitude can make all the difference in collecting payment from a patient. This is why digital debt collections by themselves may not be the best answer. While it is true that digital debt collection strategies can bring unprecedented advantages, it is the right blend of human elements and techniques that can help you improve your customer engagement.
At First Credit Services, we employ our own proprietary machine learning engine, EngageRight, a real-time speech analysis feature. It evaluates the conversation between our agent and customer in real-time to determine their tone, context, and sentiment. It also provides agents with insights and suggestions on the best ways to handle the engagement.
Mistake #2: Failing to Follow-up
Often, the staff focuses more on the daily billings and getting claims submitted and spends less time following up on receivables and improving collections. Failing to follow up will increase the chances of non-payment. By putting a consistent follow-up process in place, hospitals and medical offices will see significant reductions in their delinquent patient account numbers. Not only will this strategy improve their bottom line, but it will also improve their reputation with patients.
At First Credit Services, we have a team of dedicated medical collection agents that adhere to our proven follow-up sequence, ensuring all delinquent patients get timely and friendly follow-notifications. We also utilize our ML engine that enables us to optimize our engagements by building a customized path for each patient. It identifies patterns in the channel such as phone calls, SMS, and email and suggests the best mode of communication for each patient and the optimal time to reach out to them.
Mistake #3: Not doing your homework
Being prepared with all the necessary details and information regarding collecting from a patient is work half-done. You need to establish accurate and efficient methods of paring down information to best communicate with or track down patients- this can prove to be very effective in this digital age. You need to check your Electronic Health Record and practice management system and collect all the necessary details like the patient’s health plan and payment backlogs in real-time.
At First Credit Services, we have built multiple databases on various industries, including health care, that help us devise insight-driven collection strategies to maximize recovery rates while minimizing costs. We make full use of the data from throughout the customer debt life cycle to create a comprehensive 360-degree view of each customer. This helps us provide a personalized strategy for each customer.
Mistake #4: Lack of staff training
More often, you might have to deal with patients who will simply refuse to pay due to the inefficiency of your staff. Your staff should also be trained adequately in customer service and patient collections, recording, and storing data correctly into your system. Failure to do so will lead to problems like a rising number of receivables, problem accounts, etc. In addition to this, your staff should also be trained in handling demanding customers and conflict resolution.
All our agents are properly trained and qualified for medical/patient collections work, and we take pride in the level of customer service our agents provide. We have dedicated training and compliance departments that ensure that all agents meet proper messaging and compliance standards while communicating with your valued customers.
Mistake #5: Restricting Modes of Payment.
People like to be in control of their finances all the time. They expect convenience, flexibility, and multiple options everywhere, and debt repayment is not an exception. So, restricting patients to only one form of payment or having inflexible payment plans could result in missed opportunities for getting paid back on time. If your organization only allows payment via cash or check, it is time to upgrade to the digital world. Today, with everyone using digital payment methods that facilitate easy payments, having flexible payment plans, allowing multiple modes of payment, and providing self-service options increase your chances of debt recovery.
At First Credit Services, our Omnichannel platform, OmniXp empowers consumers to choose how they communicate with us and pay their bills. We also offer a self-service online portal for people who want to resolve their debts independently, without having to talk on the phone or meet anyone face-to-face. We have built a rich, flexible, and intuitive digital portal where customers can resolve their debts entirely online. We believe that the best solution to these problems is outsourcing the collection task to an external agency that has served numerous medical offices and hospitals. This will allow your hospital or medical office to save resources otherwise spent on collection activities and streamline the process to make your collections more efficient. This is where First Credit Services can help you. First Credit Services is a HIPAA compliant, nationally licensed agency that is reimagining healthcare collections. With our Extended Business Office (EBO) service, we assist our clients in the health care industry with recovering insurance balances, resolving denied claims, executing appeals, and claims to rebill. First Credit also specializes in First Party Collections, Third Party Collections, and Business Process Outsourcing services.