As the burden of paying health care costs increasingly moves from employers to individuals, healthcare providers are finding that they are collecting smaller amounts of the balance due. According to the American Hospital Association’s “Uncompensated Hospital Care Cost Fact Sheet, 2014”, hospitals wrote off 49.5 billion dollars in bad debt in 2012. Some of the reasons for the debt are patients being uninsured or underinsured, charity care by the hospital, or just non-payment of the debt.
Due to these factors, some patients will try to negotiate down the amount owed. They will try to negotiate a payment plan by changing the due date or or they’ll try to negotiate a discounted amount, such as the amount that Medicare/Medicaid would pay.
Negotiating a settlement can be a good thing because you’ll be able to collect and you know the payment amounts. But it also means you must have trained personnel who can effectively negotiate a settlement while staying within compliance. With that concern in mind, collection personnel are looking at a new technology: virtual negotiators.
Enter Virtual Negotiators
Virtual negotiators are fully-customizable software packages that negotiate online with consumers, without the need for a live agent, and reach agreement on a payment plan. As concerns for operating costs and compliance increase, virtual negotiators are becoming more popular in healthcare collections. How popular? According to BillingTree’s 2015 Collection Agency Operation and Technology Survey, plans to adopt virtual negotiation software increased an astounding 327% over the previous year.
Through a series of online interactions with the consumer, virtual negotiators can review the debt history, take offers from the consumer, present counter-offers and achieve agreement on a payment plan which they then implement immediately. With a custom website with your company’s logo, look and feel, you need no additional hardware, software or IT staff. In fact, the latest virtual negotiation technology can reduce your billing staff. Best of all, they work 24 hours a day, don’t take breaks, never complain, don’t need vacations and are fully compliant at all times.
Are they effective? They are. In one case study, results showed that a virtual negotiator resulted in fewer payment drop-offs, more payments through the virtual negotiator and immediate return-on-investment.
So if your outstanding healthcare balances are becoming more difficult to collect, consider looking into a virtual negotiator. It may be the help you need to collect more payments and cut your operating costs.
To learn more about virtual negotiators, check out BillingTree’s virtual negotiator webinar.