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Scripting is especially helpful for reluctant collectors, but it can come across as rehearsed and robotic. To be successful, registrars should do the following:
Depending on the registrar’s delivery, telling patients how much money they owe for services delivered and asking how patients would like to pay can come across as easygoing or robotic.
“I have found that requiring team members to follow scripting verbatim makes them sound robotic. Patients can sense this,” says Will Brown III, MBA-HCM, manager of patient access services at Baptist Medical Center South in Jacksonville, FL.
He says two things happen in this situation: Patients are less likely to pay what they owe, and they’ll think poorly of the organization for trying to collect from them in their time of need.
“Scripting should be tailored so team members can speak confidently with patients on their financial responsibility for services rendered and still create an opportunity for their personality to show,” Brown says.
When coaching on collections, Brown tells employees to “be patient, be confident, and listen more than you talk.”
Sometimes registrars are so nervous that they don’t wait for the patient’s response.
“I’ve seen team members talk themselves out of a copay by assuming the amount is too high for a patient,” Brown says.
First, the registrar tells the patient the amount that is due. Next, he or she states that the patient can take care of the payment via cash, check, or credit card.
“This is where we use what I call the ‘awkward silent’ approach,” Brown explains.
The discussion pauses until the patients respond with how they will pay or if they cannot pay. This technique is especially helpful if registrars are hesitant to ask for money.
“They do not get engaged in the uncomfortable back and forth that occurs with some patients,” Brown notes.
Most patients are receptive to this approach. Successful collections boost the registrar’s confidence for future conversations.
“It also helps with team members that may collect too aggressively, as it limits their opportunity to say things to patients that may be questionable,” says Brown, who recommends these two approaches:
Tara Farrington, registration supervisor at Genesis Medical Center-Davenport (IA) and Genesis Medical Center-DeWitt (IA), has seen a $30,000 increase in ED collections from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2016. She credits the success to the following:
“We want to have these conversations with the patients while they are in front of us,” Farrington says.
This system allows patients to ask questions and share concerns in person with the registration team, instead of trying to understand their statements at home by themselves.
“This can help our team better explain the breakdown of benefits to the patient,” says Farrington.
Registrars use scripting such as, “How would you like to pay for that today?” or “How will you be paying today?” instead of, “Are you able to pay today?” Or “Would you be able to pay for that today?”