With increasing patient out-of-pocket liability, healthcare organizations are moving more collections efforts to pre-registration and point-of-service (POS). Starting these conversations early provides transparency for patients, increased overall collections, and identifies patients with financial concerns sooner. So why are so many organizations unable to reach the 2% of Net Patient Revenue POS collections goal established by the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM)?
The answer: organizations are not teaching employees how to ask for payment.
Think about it, when hiring for Customer Service or Collections departments, employees are thoroughly vetted during the interview process and provided robust training on collections. Is the same due diligence completed for your patient access staff? At one academic medical center, the answer was 'no'. Patient Access leaders brainstormed the barriers to their collections goal. Staff training quickly stood out as a barrier. Leaders found staff were being trained how to post a payment and process credit cards, but not how to ask for payment. This led to varying levels of comfort across the staff, and ultimately not meeting POS collections goals. It was common to hear things like: "I'm really sorry, but you have a $20 copay due for today's visit" or "I see in the system you have a $20 copay, would you like us to send you a bill?"
Luckily, there is an easy solution - Compassionate Collections training. Compassionate Collections training uses common patient scenarios to better prepare staff for asking for payment. Even more importantly, it teaches them how to handle objections. It focuses on the following core principles:
- Ask for payment confidently
- Maintain respect
- Engage patients in the conversation
- Ask follow-up questions
- Identify need and offer assistance
- Process the payment or educate
After helping employees understand why it's so important to have this conversation early with the patient, transition into role-playing scenarios. Allow staff to share their personal challenges when it comes to collections and have the group brainstorm solutions. Send employees home with common objections and sample scripting to use as a reference when they are back in the clinic or hospital.
Training staff how to ask for payment will increase their confidence and performance. It will also improve your patient financial experiences by providing clear expectations and more consistency with financial communications. And most importantly, you can expect to see increased collections. One organization completed this training and saw a 30% improvement in monthly POS collections in 3 months!
If you need help with your POS collections efforts, send us a message. The Wilshire Group offers a Front End Collections Quick HIT package focused on helping you improve training, reporting, and accountability. We also develop a road map for how you can leverage technology to increase your overall collections. Quick HITS are fixed-price, short-term projects helping you achieve big results. We look forward to talking with you soon!