Zen and the art of collections. At least when it comes to collecting healthcare debt. Taking an understanding and empathetic approach with healthcare collections can ensure that everyone in the process – provider, collection agency, and consumer, all realize the maximum benefits.
That was the message from the director of revenue management at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and a collection agency that exclusively works in the healthcare industry, who spoke on a webinar earlier today hosted by payment solutions provider BillingTree.
By managing stressful situations, be it with families who are facing bills from medical procedures involving their children, or ensuring that the relationship between collection agency and provider is as productive as possible, healthcare companies and agencies can maximize collection rates and payments.
“We don’t want to stress out the families that much,” said Nolan Williams, the director of revenue management at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH). “We don’t want anyone harassing families to the point where people are getting upset at us.”
Walking that line between empathy and the bottom line is a tough needle to thread. One that takes training, knowledge, and a willingness to help.
“There are times where we have to assist consumers with their insurance entities,” said Pat Nixon, vice president of marketing for CMRE Financial Services, a healthcare collection agency based in Brea, Calif. “Resolution of the debt and obtaining payment are not always synonymous.”
Knowledge of healthcare collections is an important requirement for PCH to consider working with a collection agency, Williams said. PCH will also speak to references from the collection agency, going as far as to look for other children’s hospitals that send their business to the collection agency in question.
“There has to be a familiarity with children’s healthcare debt,” Williams said. “They have to understand the differences,” between children’s healthcare and adult healthcare.
Agencies also have to be able to apply the philosophies of their clients to their interactions with consumers, Nixon said.
“In the third-party environment, we are the last interaction that the patient has with a healthcare company,” Nixon said. “We are a direct reflection on our client.”
Agencies should also be looking hard at taking the steps to be able to accept payments from a consumer’s Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). BillingTree, for example, offers a Health Payment Ambassador Service, or Health PAS, that opens up a new payment channel option for collection agencies collecting on early out. That channel also usually carries lower costs than other payment methods, said Chad Probst, vice president of sales and business development for BillingTree. Providers benefit from the channel by reducing the likelihood of fraud since account information is not being shared, plus it eliminates the need for provider’s employees to process HSA and FSA payments on behalf of the partner agency, Probst said.
A recording of the webinar can be downloaded by clicking here.