Medical collections are a sensitive subject. Often times the debt is completely out of the debtor's control. Someone got sick, they got help, and the bills started piling in. Healthcare is really expensive when you have a serious condition and insurance doesn’t cover the entire bill. Often times, otherwise fiscally responsible people (even those with insurance) get swamped with debt they had no way of anticipating and no way of paying. What do you do as a healthcare company or assisted living facility that needs to balance the requirement to get paid for services and the long-term and often personal relationship you have with your clientele?
#1: The Ability to Empathize
Ideally you don’t need to utilize a collection agency at all. In the event that you do, you want to find a company that incorporates a heavy dose of humanity into their collection efforts. It is extremely important that financial issues related to ones personal health (or that of their loved ones) be treated with the utmost care and respect. In short, you want to work with an agency that treats healthcare collections like they had a stake in your business - like their reputation mattered to them. If ever there was a time for empathy and flexibility, this is it.
#2: Technical Infrastructure to Handle PHI Securely
The next big thing to think about is Protected Health Information (PHI). Medical records are full of confidential information that is protected by the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In order to work in medical collections an agency must have technical infrastructure in place capable of securely storing, transferring, and otherwise handling private information. Be sure to confirm that a collections agency is HIPAA compliant.
As discussed above, medical and healthcare collections warrant extra discretion and tact. Should you find yourself in a position where you need to hire a collections agency, you’ll want to ensure that they represent your company well, and that they follow the necessary legislation and regulations. Beyond that, you want them to be effective at their job, while maintaining the relationship you have built with your own clients.
What are some of the things you look for when choosing a debt collector? If you're in the industry, do you have a different process for medical versus other types of debt collection? Let us know in the comments!