Analyzing a healthcare collection agency is not a simple task. This is especially true if you are a small to mid-size healthcare facility and are unfamiliar with how collection agencies operate. You might not be aware of the methods collectors use to facilitate payment or may very likely be hesitant to outsource such a sensitive process as patient collections.
To help put you at ease and make the right decision, here are the three key things to look at (and questions to ask) before hiring an outside healthcare collections partner:
1. What is your overall collections philosophy and what are your methods?
The biggest thing to look at when analyzing a collection agency is how the agency will actually recover your debt. It is important to understand the processes and procedures your new partner in A/R management utilizes and to have a clear idea for how your patients will be treated during the bill pay process. Some questions to ask that will help you get a better understanding of this are:
- What kind of techniques and strategies do your collectors use to facilitate payment from patients?
- How are your collection processes bigger, better, faster than my internal collection procedures?
- What cost relief will I realize as a result of your specialized staffing, experience, and technology?
- How can I be assured that you will treat my patients just as I would?
- Will my patients always be treated with dignity and respect and with the interest of patient satisfaction and retention in mind?
Having the answers to questions like these will go a long way in assessing a prospective collection agency and comparing them to other potential partners.
2. Who will I be paying to represent my facility?
Always remember that outside collectors, while they may not work directly for your organization, are effectively becoming part of your staff. By speaking with your patients during the bill pay process, these individuals will play a large part in molding your reputation and determining your patient base. Some helpful questions to ask to assess whether outside collectors will act in your best interest are:
- Does your agency invest heavily in collector training, industry education, and continuous employee development?
- Are collectors well informed on all industry laws and regulations like the FDCPA and HIPPA?
- Do you incentivize collectors for quantity or quality collections? Or both?
- Are the interests and goals of your collectors aligned with those of my organization and will they always provide a high quality, patient-friendly experience?
3. What are some of the other benefits of hiring an outside collection agency?
One of the most beneficial aspects of outsourcing collections is adding a wealth of knowledge and experience to your accounts receivable management procedures. Remember to ask:
- What expertise and knowledge of best practices in healthcare collections do you have that my staff does not?
- How do your capabilities, processes, technology etc. streamline the bill pay process for both me and my patients?
- What sorts of convenient payment options and arrangements can you offer my patients? Can patients pay online or over the phone?
In conclusion, the purpose of asking these questions and being diligent when vetting a potential collections partner is to assure you hire an agency that shares your same goals and values. Not only should you benefit from higher recovery rates and lower bad debt expense from outsourcing your collections, but your patient relationships should be maintained (or even enhanced!) as well. So ask these important questions and find the healthcare collection agency that is the right fit for you.
YOUR TURN: What other questions, topics, concerns do you have when analyzing a potential collection agency? Do you pay close attention to the patient experience as well as the numbers? We’d love to hear your process.