Success at a glance: improved collections, part two

While all hospitals and health systems will no doubt encounter revenue-specific challenges related to the pandemic, a solid foundation and targeted approach for improved collections can help speed up the road to recovery. In fact, it was Sanford Health’s unique approach to increasing patient collections that allowed it to both optimize collections during the pandemic and improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Several years prior to COVID-19, Sanford took steps to improve collections with a patient-focused, hybrid approach that combines employee incentives with segmentation strategies.

Leveraging Collections Optimization Manager and PatientDial from Experian Health, Sanford was able to quickly and easily streamline call center operations and increase collections in a myriad of ways – through new and updated patient addresses, patient-friendly billing statements, identifying new guarantors and more.

With the above items in place, Sanford was already well positioned to seamlessly manage normal business operations during a pandemic. The organization was able to quickly adapt, and then build on that momentum to better serve its patients and staff, while also driving results.

Since the start of COVID-19, Sanford has:

  • Increased employee satisfaction with remote capabilities
    PatientDial allowed Sanford to seamlessly transition its call center team to work remote. Where about 30% of the workforce was remote prior to COVID-19, just shy of 99% of call center representatives are now remote. This has been a great source of employee satisfaction and safety and has aided in the system’s ability to keep the collections momentum going.
  • Provided a more compassionate approach to collections
    Recognizing that this is a sensitive time for many, Sanford ensured the proper mechanisms were in place to identify those who required additional help, offering the best methods for collection possible. Sanford has not only created a billing indicator for patients affected by COVID-19, but Experian Health has provided additional insight with a weekly file of patients who are identified as possibly financially stressed.
  • Improved collections during time of crisis
    While collections decreased for the quarter, Sanford saw a record increase in collections for the month of March — $800K more than the system saw in March of 2019.


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Success at a glance: improved collections, part one

Before working with Experian Health, call center operations at Sanford Health were disparate and disjointed, with each call center operating on a different phone system with different carriers. While some centers saw high abandonment rates, others were waiting around for calls. Although Sanford attempted to create balance by placing accounts in a work queue, the process for managing outbound collection calls remained manual and it was impossible to identify and strategically contact patients based on ability to pay.

Sanford took steps to improve collections with a patient-focused, hybrid approach that combines employee incentives with segmentation strategies.

Since working with Experian Health, Sanford now has a focused approach to managing accounts receivable (AR) by identifying patients with a certain propensity to pay. Collections Optimization Manager allows Sanford to quickly identify a pathway and delivery to resolution of the patient’s balance.

The analytical segmentation models within Collections Optimization Manager use precise algorithms that reveal those patients who likely are eligible for charity services, those who might prefer to pay in full at a discount, or those who might benefit from a payment plan. The solution then feeds segmentation data to PatientDial, which Sanford uses to route calls to 70 patient account representatives.

Sanford also implemented a re-designed, more user-friendly patient statement format. The improved cover page offers easy-to-understand information about the bill including the available options for payment.

In a larger effort to improve the patient experience, Sanford implemented an employee incentive program that appropriately rewards staff based on their collections’ performance.

Since working with Experian Health, Sanford has seen the following improvements:

Streamlined call center operations. With PatientDial in place, Sanford was able to consolidate its call center team members in 4 regions and seamlessly operate on centralized toll free and direct dial numbers. Where it used to take on average 56 seconds for a call to be answered, calls are now answered in 20 seconds or less. The system now comfortably manages an average of 12,000 inbound calls weekly.

Increased collections. The model in place has allowed Sanford to improve collections in a myriad of ways. In addition to increased collections from calls made through PatientDial, Sanford was able to see an additional $2.5M in patient payments by ensuring patient statements were sent to the new or correct address. The system found an additional $60K by identifying new guarantors for accounts of deceased patients. The segmentation capabilities from Experian Health also enabled Sanford to identify patients struggling with bankruptcy, allowing staff to focus their efforts on collectible accounts and more efficiently direct individuals to charity options.

Learn more about Sanford Health’s journey and how a similar approach could help your organization improve collections and employee satisfaction.

The post Success at a glance: improved collections, part one appeared first on Healthcare Blog.