When a healthcare organization prepares to choose a medical collections partner, the candidate’s communications practices should share top priority with their overall proven effectiveness. After all, the vitality of the medical business will rest in their hands. Whether you plan to outsource your entire billing department or utilize the partner for self-pay/patient responsible billing and early-outs, failure to remain accessible and forthcoming with your account information will quickly erode trust in the affiliate. Your business manager must have easy access to the details of the billing and collection processes used by the partner. How do great communications practices manifest?
They Can Work Internally with Your Established Billing System
Especially important for early-out bill collection is the capacity for your collection partner to work seamlessly with your in-house billing department. If permitted, they will send statements and letters on your behalf. Additionally, they should work with your patients in need of payment plans, according to your policies, and offer them counsel towards financial assistance. In other words, they’ll demonstrate a willingness to look and behave like your own accounts receivable department.
They Will Provide Status Reports
A worthwhile partner will submit regular status reports to your business office. Although you hire a partner in order to free your staff for daily business activities, you still need to know how successful your service has been in gathering payments on your behalf. Regular reports will alert you to unresolved accounts approaching the 120-day mark. A great partner will have the technology to manage your accounts in one electronic file and mine it for data with which to populate reports. Equally important is the clarity of the reports.
They Should Provide a Single Point of Contact
Since medical collections entails many moving parts, a good affiliate will provide a dedicated representative for your account. You should never have to go through a phone tree or be shuffled to a department that’s not familiar with your entire service plan. A single account representative should be your single touchpoint for information in most cases.
They Provide Remittance Statements in a Timely Manner
Your cash flow depends on receiving payments as quickly as possible. A great collection partner will always send remittance statements and the fruits of their labors, minus their fees, in a timely manner. Your managers should never have to request them.
They Are Sensitive to Your Patient Relationships
The medical profession is all about helping hurting people in caring, compassionate environments. A growing business is all about repeat and new patients. Most patients want to pay in full and on time, but with insurance denials, confusion surrounding the ACA, exchanges and steeply rising deductibles and co-pays, individual situations can become less than ideal. If your collection partner fails to treat your slow-pay patients with dignity, respect and understanding, you stand to lose them, and your practice’s reputation could suffer. Your affiliate should handle your patients in a gentle and professional manner.
They Educate or Help Patients to Apply for Third-Party Assistance
For patients having extreme difficulty in resolving their accounts, a great collections partner will work with you and the patient’s insurer to untangle insurance denials and mistakes. When denials prove intractable, they offer your patients hands-on help in seeking charitable or financial assistance. You want your affiliate to exhaust all potential avenues for account resolution before they simply must send the file with to collections.
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They Report All Patient Complaints
When patients, attempting to pay, complain about collection efforts, they deserve to be heard. With calm, attentive communication practices, your partner should be able to identify the patient’s issue and offer satisfactory assistance. This may entail consultations with your business manager or billing department. Whether the complaints can be addressed without consultation or not, your affiliate should notify you of all complaints in their regular status reports, if not sooner.
They Will Reconcile Accounts with Internal Billing Regularly
Your affiliate’s service should never lapse in reconciling accounts with your internal billing department. This should happen on an established schedule. When new billing occurs, the affected files should be updated without delay. One common protestation from patients is that they had no idea their insurance failed to pay or that they had a balance due until the day they received the first collections phone call. These incidents can be dramatically reduced through regular account reconciliations.
They Provide Placement Confirmations
When you agree that it’s time for an account to be out-placed for extraordinary collections actions, your diligent affiliate will send you confirmation.
A good medical collections partner possesses the experience, technology, trained staff and professionalism to ensure your billing department stays on top of self-pay or early-out accounts. Be sure to choose a medical collections partner with nothing but exceptional communication practices. They will be worth the price.