Registrars at The Cooper Health System in Camden, NJ, recently began giving patients who are hospital employees a new option: to use one, two, or three payroll deductions to take care of their copays. This seemingly minor change gave revenue a major boost.
Point-of-service collections rose a whopping 634% at the surgical center, reports Pamela Konowall, CHAM, assistant director of healthcare access. The following steps also contributed.
The health system attempts to collect copays for same-day surgery patients before the surgery, Konowall says. “A phone call is made the night before the scheduled procedure in an effort to educate the patient and collect,” she says.
Patients are encouraged to make payments before they arrive. Staff members explain to patients “that they will not have to worry about bringing valuables such as credit cards when their payment is made before their procedure,” Konowall says.
A list of patients who have unpaid copays is distributed to the access department, she says. “The registrar is responsible to request payment upon the patient’s arrival the day of surgery,” Konowall says.
Top collectors are recognized every week with gift cards or movie tickets. “An email spotlighting the employee is sent to all of their co-workers,” Konowall adds.
College Helped Train
A local community college was an unexpected source of help in improving cash collections. Many of the healthcare system’s employees attend classes at the school.
“The revenue cycle team was mindful that there have been numerous times the college actually comes on site to conduct classes for hospital staff,” Konowall says.
Leaders did some research and discovered that the college had a grant available. Faculty members were willing to provide point-of-service training sessions for registrars. “The college’s Office of Customized Training developed the training to meet the needs of collectors per the specifications of the revenue cycle team,” says Konowall.
The instructor had a healthcare and sales background. The college didn’t charge but required at least 15 people be enrolled. “The idea was to give front-end collectors the whole picture,” says Konowall. “Topics from the evolution of the payment system to the evolvement of scripting were reviewed.”
In February, the college’s faculty held eight training sessions for front-end staff at the hospital’s Central Business Office. “Immediately following this training, front-end collectors were so excited, they were calling the access management team to report their successes,” says Konowall. Registrars learned to build relationships with patients, use helpful phrases, and address common objections. One registrar excitedly reported making three successful collections. “She stated collecting was much easier than she first thought,” says Konowall.