Category Archives: Collection Policy


Collections Policy, Part 3: Creating a collections culture


Once your policy is in place, you must develop a “collections culture” that values great customer service and efficient collections of AR – and makes both things a priority! Creating a collections culture means having a consistent vision and knowing how you’d like everyone to view your company. This means your staff must know to explain the patient’s financial responsibility and be comfortable asking for a payment.

If you are asking your staff to take on new tasks, start with small goals. Focus on one area, such as collecting payment info. For example, you can establish the goal for every employee to collect payment information from every patient. Track the activity and reward the employees who collect required information. This way you will reward the desired behavior and will reinforce good habits. Simple incentives such as gift cards, movie passes, or even a pizza party can reap big rewards!

When it comes to leading your team, Allegiance Group suggests using both “push” and “pull” strategies. Need a refresher on push-vs- pull leadership strategies? This article provides four opposed, but complementary, coaching examples.

Don’t be deterred by one method over the other. Choose which is best for your team and move forward confidently. If you’re unsure about your best leadership strategy, our team can help talk you through these options… whether you’re a client or not! Please reach out to Bruce Gehring at 913-338-4790 x202 to talk through more strategies you can try to influence change in your company.

“Pushing” your team to change their habits

  • Weekly review of intake team numbers. Celebrate winners. We like Fridays!
  • Rewrite job descriptions to include specifics
  • Set an aggressive short-term goal for team leaders

“Pulling” your team to be mindful of a collections culture

  • Build a collections graph to track the % of co-insurance that your team collects
  • Create mutually shared values and guiding principles together
  • Appreciate the work and the individual
  • Coach employees who are not embracing change
  • Recognize activities that reinforce your culture
  • Outline a simple rewards program for your team. We like these 52 ideas from Insperity!

No matter if you push or pull, changes will only happen if you make the commitment to analyze the efforts and data that come from the team’s effort.  If you’re the director of change, the best place to start is with yourself. Many billing software programs track who enters information into the system.  If one of your employees is not reaching his/her goals, have a coaching process in place to help.

Don’t forget about your patients!

Once your internal team is confident in what they’re doing and why it’s important, you’ll need to focus on changing patient expectations. In the past, many companies did not worry about collecting the patient balance until after the insurance portion was paid. Today, it is more common for providers to ask for payment upfront, so patients are becoming more accustom to paying their share before the service is provided.

What if the patient gets upset when you ask for payment?

Lay out a plan to explain to your patients why you’ve made any changes. Train your employees to be empathetic to your patient’s concerns.  This will help reduce the frustration level of your patient and allow them to compassionately set up a payment plan.

Five things you can do to help change your patient’s expectations:

1. Make sure your employees can clearly explain how much the patient owes for the equipment that’s recommended. This includes using your billing software or up-to-date deductible, co-pay and co-insurance coverage information to calculate the patient’s balance.
2. Communicate payment schedules to the patient from the first conversation – even if you don’t yet have a full estimate of benefits. Let them know that payment is due upon service and if there will be any additional bills over time in their case. It doesn’t have to be extraordinarily detailed – but repetition and transparency are important.
3. Post signs that say “Payment is due at the time service is provided.”
4. Get payment information as soon as you can. Make sure you can store the information securely – you can use a payment portal or software, like COLLECTPlus, to store the information early in the order delivery process.
5. Offer a variety of payment options, including payment plans. Some companies now even accept PayPal 😊

Want to learn more?

Read Jeremy Bloom’s article, 6 Steps for Creating a Strong Company Culture, for ideas you can include in your company culture to create a thriving business.

Collection Policy, Part 2: Where do I start when creating a Collection Policy?


When creating a collection policy, your goal is to create a published document that outlines the company’s collection procedures.  It will include a variety of topics from setting up a patient record to processing a payment. Keep in mind, the purpose of the policy is to help establish the collection culture of your organization and define who will complete which tasks throughout the process.

To begin, pull out your current documents. These notes will help you outline what is commonly known as your “workflow.” Your workflow will detail what happens when you receive an order and follows a patient’s journey until their bill is paid. Our patient invoice flow chart will give you some ideas on what to include.

Continue reading Collection Policy, Part 2: Where do I start when creating a Collection Policy?

How company culture impacts collection results


Today, there is an urgency to improve patient collections. You have thoughtfully created your collection policy and procedures to meet your goals. Now what? The two keys to success that cannot be found in a written policy are your staff and your company culture. Learn how your culture impacts collection results.

Assume you have the best employees. Culture can be the X-Factor that accelerates collections. Culture is the beliefs, assumptions and attitudes that guide what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not. When you hear, “That’s how we we’ve always done it,” that’s your culture talking. When you create a culture that supports your policy and procedures, you will optimize staff efficiency and recovery results.

Here are five best practices to help introduce your new culture:

 

        • Continuously communicate your collection policy and procedures. Your employees must understand what you are trying to accomplish. This understanding will help establish accountability at every level.
        • Realize that culture has a huge impact on results. It impacts your employee’s attitude, effort and engagement at work.
        • Include your staff in the planning. If you do, it will be easier for them to help implement the changes in your culture and support your goals. Culture change is time-consuming, but well worth the effort. What actions should stop, what actions should start and what actions should be continued to reach your goals? Also, focus on attitude and personal-interaction protocols, which can make a huge difference in fostering a cohesive team and positive company representatives.
        • List and prioritize the changes and train your staff on how to implement them.
        • Monitor, measure and encourage. Offer positive reinforcement, such as “Caught in the Act” recognition. Create short-term wins. Review each employee’s adherence and contribution to the culture during your regular one-on-one meetings.

When completed, employees should be able to explain, “My job is to do X and here’s how I do it.”  This helps demonstrate how individual daily actions help achieve the company’s bottom line.

By Anne Orrick, COO, Allegiance Group

As seen in HME News, December 21, 2018

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