Success at a glance: patient-centric collections

With high-deductible health plans, larger out of pocket costs, and confusion about medical costs in general, it’s no surprise that patients today face increased financial responsibility. Unfortunately, the current pandemic has introduced an entirely new level of financial responsibility and uncertainty for both patients and providers.

Like many provider organizations across the country, Yale New Haven Health was feeling the impact of the changing healthcare landscape. Patients are finding it harder and harder to pay their medical bills, and more accounts are going to debt. The organization obviously needed to be compensated for their services and improve collections, but it needed to do so in a way that matched its mission and vision of providing high value, patient-centered care.

A few years ago, Yale New Haven Health turned to Experian Health to improve collections with an elevated patient experience.

With Experian Health’s Collections Optimization Manager, Yale New Haven Health was able to score and segment patient accounts based on who has the propensity to pay, determine how a patient could best resolve their bill and then direct them to the appropriate resources for doing so. The organization supplemented this activity with PatientDial, a cloud-based dialing platform that offers inbound and outbound communication options to increase collections.

While these efforts have improved collections for the organization in the past, they have proven invaluable for both the revenue cycle and the patient experience during COVID-19.

  • Increased patient satisfaction. A billing indicator was included for patients that might be experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, allowing the organization to hold that particular billing statement for 90 days. After 90 days, those accounts were again reviewed and evaluated for charity care as necessary. Patients have been grateful for the extra time and flexibility for payment during such a stressful event.
  • Continued collections. With these steps in place, Yale New Haven Health was able to maintain the regular daily statement production and movement of accounts through the revenue cycle for those not experiencing COVID-related hardship. The additional revenue supported the institution and helped to maintain collection levels as close to normal as possible during uncertain times.
  • Improved communications. Even with the 90-day delay for select accounts, call campaigns with PatientDial continued throughout the pandemic. Connection rates have increased by 5.5% month over month from January to present. Patients are not only pleased with the communications over balances due but are more receptive to attempts to resolve debt as the organization has approached billing-related communications in a more empathetic manner.


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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.

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