5 Key Tips to Minimize Charge offs (Healthcare)
While healthcare providers are no strangers to bad debt, technology and best practices are constantly evolving. Kelly Johnson, the lead engineer at Lockheed Martin, coined the phrase “keep it simple stupid”. Revenue and collection managers aren’t building spy planes that travel at 3x the speed of sound, but the process to success remains the same.
- FRONT END STAFF/ DATA COLLECTION: Your front-line team is the face of your organization. They are responsible for most of the interaction between the institution and patients. It is critical they are constantly updating patient contact and employment info. If your front-end team is proactive, your back-end team will see greater results.
- PATIENT CONTACT-EARLY AND OFTEN: Staying in front of your delinquencies is essential. Contact members as quickly as possible. For most, this is around 7-10 days after a missed payment. Yes, letters have their place in our world, but a live person on the phone gets paid. 4-8 contact touches (VM, letters, calls) should occur in every age bucket up to charge off.
- DON’T CHASE NON-PAYING ACCOUNTS: The number one rule in debt collection (after “ask for the money”) is to keep communicating. Situations change over time, and a pattern of established communication goes a long way. On the other hand, a billing representative must know when to move on and devote resources to patients looking to cure their account. Wasting time on non-payers allows good money to slip through the cracks.
- BE DIRECT AND CLEAR-CONSEQUENCES: It is very important to inform your patients about the consequences of non-payment during this process. A patient being surprised by holds, or unexpected late/penalty fees can discourage additional communication. Also, creating an additional sense of urgency pre a penalty can generate payments.
- CHARGE-OFF/PLACE WITH AGENCY: Tip #2 doesn’t just apply to pre-charged-off patients. The same principle is true for agencies handling your delinquent patient accounts. If we have gotten to this point, it is very possible you aren’t the only organization your member is delinquent with. Accounts placed between days 120-365 from the date of service have a much higher recovery rate than the same accounts placed 365+.