At a time when compliance dictates collection agency communication with consumers, how can concepts like empathy, patience and understanding become an integral part of the process?
Patients are paying more and more out-of-pocket expenses for their healthcare. As a result, providers face increased collection challenges. Maintaining quality patient interactions during the collection process becomes critical for regulatory compliance, patient satisfaction and financial viability.
To cover all the bases, collection agencies should follow established industry best practices for communicating with patients regarding billing and payment. According to the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), best practices involve:
- Focusing on consistency, clarity and transparency
- Helping patients understand the parameters of the collection process, such as cost of services, insurance coverage, individual responsibility and available financial assistance programs
- Integrating compassion, patient advocacy and education in all patient communication
- Standardizing the communication process for all patient interactions
- Protecting patients’ private health information and complying with federal regulations
- Verifying patient contact information and preferred methods of communication
- Adopting training programs for collection personnel
- Leveraging technology to conduct collection activities and provide meaningful data for decision-making
- Soliciting feedback from patients regarding communication performance
- Promoting amicable resolution of all patient financial obligations
Effective communication during the collection process is more important than ever. With complex payment structures, numerous payers, a multitude of government programs, greater compliance requirements and greater percentages of patient responsibility for total healthcare costs, adopting best communication practices should be the goal for all healthcare organizations and their collection agencies.