5 Ways to Improve Patient Collections in Hospitals

Jim Bohnsack, vice president of TransUnion’s healthcare group, discusses five ways to improve point of service collections from hospital patients.

1. Collect at the point of service. Collecting out-of-pocket charges, according to one study, is successful with 96 percent of patients at the point of service versus 18 percent one month later. "It's crucial that hospitals utilize data assets to better determine a patient's ability to pay at the point-of-service," Mr. Bohnsack says.

2. Prepare the patient. Communicate cost of care prior to service and deliver the message through the medium your patients prefer, ranging from telephone to e-mail to text messaging. "Setting an expectation about what and when a patient will be responsible to pay adds efficiency to your revenue cycle in a low-cost manner," Mr. Bohnsack says.

3. Know how to ask. "It is impossible to collect if your staff doesn't directly ask patients," Mr. Bohnsack says. Provide registrars with the training and resources to feel comfortable about asking patients, "How are you going to pay?" Scripts and scenarios are useful. Provide staff who excel in upfront collections with incentives like gift certificates. "These are small investments compared to the cost of 'dialing for dollars' on the back end to collect payments," Mr. Bohnsack says. Moreover, asking for collections at the point of service means customer service standards are not compromised, which could occur when back-end collections are outsourced.

4. Make it easy to pay. Locate multiple cash collection sites throughout your facility and accept multiple forms of payment. If you cannot accept a certain type of payment, notify patients prior to service so they can come prepared.

5. Access to data. Modern technology and tools have helped to improve upfront collections, providing instant data so that staff can educate patients on their cost of care. To optimize point of service collections in an industry increasingly focused on customer service, integrate data intelligence into your overall customer relationship management strategy.

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