Capturing POS collections is critical to improving healthcare revenue cycle management
It’s a fact. High-deductible insurance plans are driving consumerism and turning patients and their wallets into important and expanding sources of revenue for healthcare organizations. While this trend has been years in the making, opportunity remains for many providers to improve their POS collection processes by implementing a few easy steps and refined best practices among front-end, patient access staff.
Michelle Fox, Director of Revenue Operations and Patient Access at Health First in Rockledge, Florida, recently shared with us that her organization is intentionally working to drive POS trends in their favor. And the work is paying off. “Since 2010, we’ve seen point-of-service collections as a percentage of total net revenue more than triple,” said Fox. “We see this trend continuing to gain momentum. As we work to balance collections and an exceptional patient experience, we’ve refined our processes to build transparency, empathy and flexibility into our patient encounters.”
Patient-centric focus, combined with an intentional POS emphasis, has led to the Health First’s creation of a 10-step approach to increasing point-of-service collections. These best practices have helped to fuel revenue growth and – with the right systems and follow-through – should be repeatable for other hospitals and health systems.
Greet the patient. It may seem obvious, but introducing yourself, warmly welcoming patients, and asking how you can help goes a long way in creating a favorable first impression and establishing the foundation of a great patient experience.
Set a friendly tone. Front-line staff are often busy, stressed and tied up with paper, but it’s also important to remember that they are the face of the organization. That face should be friendly and should wear a smile, regardless of the frenzy of other activities and obligations. When helping a patient, everything else should melt away and that patient’s needs and experience should be the sole focus.
Collect key information. Next, collect the patient’s name and date of birth. Then confirm that the patient is the guarantor of payment. If that’s the case, move forward. If not, be sure to involve that person – a spouse, parent, child or caregiver – in the conversation.
Educate the patient. Patients like to be informed, even if they don’t owe anything out of pocket. Take the time to confirm the payer’s policies and requirements and run an estimate for every patient regardless of insurance. Once complete, provide written confirmation of the cost of the patient’s procedure, benefits, and the estimated remaining balance for his or her visit.
Ask for payment. Keep it simple and direct. For any remaining balance, ask the patient: “How would you like to take care of the bill today?”
Pause and listen. Give the patient time to think. Your silence will prompt a response.
Respond favorably. Again, keep this simple and direct: “Let me see if I can help you find a solution for your portion of this visit.”
Discuss payment alternatives. The key here is to collect a portion of the payment upfront. Inform the patient: “I can accept half and set you up on a payment plan for the remaining balance.”
Secure a commitment. It can be tempting for patient access professionals to dominate the conversation. At this point, it really should be a dialogue. The patient needs to respond and confirm that they understand and are willing to commit to a mutual agreement.
Confirm agreement. Reinforcing what’s been discussed is key to ensuring that all parties are on the same page. Repeat back to the patient and his/her representatives what they agreed to and allow them to confirm its accuracy. Once confirmed, be sure to thank the patient for choosing your facility.
While it’s great to have a script and a plan, every patient and interaction is different. Ensure that staff are trained to handle exceptions and protocols for when appointments need to be delayed due to outstanding balances or when a patient may require help in applying for financial assistance.
Arm staff with the training and support they need to be successful. Script the key talking points and host practice role-play sessions to reinforce best practices. Many hospitals record phone calls and staff interactions with patients and payers, both to document what was agreed upon and to help drive quality control, create teachable moments and reinforce best practices. The Trace® platform from Vyne Medical is leveraged by hundreds of hospitals to do just this and has proven a valuable asset in helping drive POS collections, proof of conversations, accountability among employees, and protection for front-line staff in situations of he-said/she-said points and counterpoints.
“Leveraging Trace to help reinforce our proven best practices has enabled Health First to successfully drive three key outcomes. We’ve improved the patient experience, enhanced the confidence and empowerment of our employees, and we’ve successfully increased our POS collections,” said Fox.