From `clueless’ to success in collections
When at Longmont (CO) Surgery Center started collecting copays and deductibles up front, they were "clueless" about the process, says Angie Blankinship, BSN, CASC, administrator.
"We knew the goal: Collect the money we were supposed to collect. We knew the information we needed -- authorization, eligibility/benefits — to succeed," she says. "We took steps. We fell back a bit, got back up, and the staff was uncomfortable. Then they started to see the "fruits of their labor," and here we are."
Here’s how the process works:
Encourage the surgeons to have their patients pre-register as soon as they know that they are scheduled. When they pre-register, you have the information earlier, can make your telephone calls, and have plenty of time to call and talk with patients about the amounts that are due prior to surgery, Blankinship says.
Ask most patients to pay via credit card on the phone. This simplifies the check-in process on the date of service. Not all can or want to pay. The information tech places a note in the system that she has called the patient and the amount due at check-in.
The center prints the quote from the estimator (Zirmed Patient Estimation) that comes through the clearinghouse. "The actual piece of paper contains the amount for the patient’s total responsibility," Blankinship says. It lists the insurance responsibility, the co-pay, the deductible amount not met, and the patient’s co-insurance. The form also has the procedure scheduled. It gives the patient the center’s contracted insurance payment amount and prints the total that the patient will owe at the end.
"We have the form customized and write `thank you’ from the Longmont Surgery Center," Blankinship says. "I am a total believer in small personal touches. The hand-written thank you, to me, is huge."
Prior to mailing, the eligibility/benefits secretary calls the patient, explains the patient’s responsibility, answers questions, and establishes a relationship. "Our secretary then puts direct, clear, and concise notes in our system so that when the patient either pre-registers or arrives for their service, our receptionist can collect the money," Blankinship says. "Our secretary, more often than not, collects the money when she calls the patient with their amount due."
After the eligibility/benefits secretary calls the patients, she sends a prepared form from the estimator program through the intermediary confirming their conversation.
Try to call the patient at least a week out, Blankinship says. No one appreciates a telephone call night before surgery stating that you owe money the next day, she says.
Some of the surgeons, mostly ophthalmic and GI, schedule their cases out 2-3 weeks. "This allows us to call the patients with plenty of time to prepare and not receive an unwelcome surprise on the day of service," Blankinship says. "Our process is consistent, fair, and 90% of the time, something that the patient can achieve."
- For more information on the Zirmed Patient Estimation, contact Zirmed in Louisville, KY. Telephone: (877) 494-7633. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: http://bit.ly/1iE1WVY.