Collection Policy vs. Collection Procedures

Do I need a Collection Policy if I have Collection Procedures?

Absolutely, and here’s why you need a collection policy even if you have collection procedures.  Your collection policy defines the mission and rules you want employees to follow to reach company goals. It guides employees on how to handle patient accounts and outlines your approach to balancing getting paid with customer satisfaction.

Policies will differ for each provider. For example, direct HME/DME providers may demand more credit cards captured upfront versus HME/DME providers receiving referrals or infusion providers, who are supporting end-of-life scenarios.

Collection procedures detail the patient invoice workflow starting with the referral and ending with the balance being paid in full or written off as a bad debt. When creating or reviewing your workflow, you and your team can have a healthy discussion on how to handle a patient’s balance throughout the process. Here are some questions to consider as you are outlining the workflow.

      • What information should we collect with each new order?
      • Will credit card info be kept on file?
      • What payment terms will we offer?
      • When and how will we contact patients with balances?
      • If an account has an outstanding balance, will we process new order?

When responding to these questions, make certain your answers are clear, concise and easy to understand.

Before finalizing your policy and procedures, we recommend you ask your accountant to identify topics that may be unique to your business so they can be addressed.

Follow these 4 steps to keep your policy and procedures relevant:
        • Train your staff. If you are making several changes to your procedures, you might consider formal training or team meeting.
        • Make the documents easy to access. Have your policy and procedures hosted on your intranet or shared document server. If they are hard to find, they will not be used.
        • Hold employees accountable by measuring their adherence to the procedures. Monitor their activities and provide feedback on how they are doing, both praise and coach.
        • Review the documents on a regular basis, especially if your results are not meeting your goals. Remember to update the documents and retrain your staff as you make changes.

Remember, these proactive steps will help improve your cash recovery. The time you spend on these documents will reap benefits for your organization.

Anne Orrick, COO, Allegiance Group
As seen in HME News, November 2018

Five essential questions for your collection policy

By Anne Orrick, COO, Allegiance Group

A collection policy is the set of procedures your company will follow to ensure payment of patient accounts. To cover the basics in your policy, answer these five essential questions:

  • What are your collection goals?
    Always start with the end in mind, so establish your collection goals. Industry goals to consider include days sales outstanding, clean claim ratio, open order days, hold days, cash recovery rate, denial rate, write-off rate.


  • How will those goals be measured?
    Use the SMART criteria when setting your goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. Track your workflow ratios on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis. By watching your trends, you can determine if you need to adjust your collection policy to meet your goals.


  • What is the collection process?
    Begin by flowcharting your workflow. Identify the information to capture upfront and the payment options you will offer. Answer the following questions: Will you be flexible on your payment plans?  Define how you’ll contact the patient. What steps will you take to collect a past-due balance? Remember to focus on how you can automate your process. Look for systematic ways to communicate to patients, process payments, track responses and age accounts with as little of your staff’s involvement as possible.


  • Who will resolve disputes?
    Consider identifying a few employees as resolution specialists. Their responsibilities should include handling questions, researching accounts, determining how much should be written off and approving the write-off.


  • When will you write off an account?
    Set guidelines to determine when to label a balance as uncollectable. Then outline the next steps. Will you send the account to an outside agency? Will you report the debt to a credit bureau?

The answers to these five essential questions will serve as the foundation for your collection policy. Once you train your staff on the procedures you will create clarity and consistency within your organization.

As seen in HME News, October 30, 2018