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June Healthcare Advisory Board Recap: Front-End Collections

Wind River was thrilled to welcome the members of the Healthcare Advisory Board for the second meeting of 2019. The Healthcare Advisory Board was put together as an opportunity for revenue cycle leaders, healthcare payment experts, healthcare product partners and Wind River’s healthcare team to come together and discuss key topics around the industry. The goal is for everyone to share best practices and innovative solutions.

This month’s leading topic was patient payments – specifically front-end collections. Rebecca Haymaker from The Wilshire Group joined the meeting to share her experiences working with hospital revenue cycle leaders and in leading a patient-focused project called Compassionate Collections. Here’s a quick recap of the discussion.

What are patients’ challenges with payments?

  • Education around financial responsibilities is often lacking, leading to confusing bills and unhappy patients. Patients are reporting that they would not be able to pay surprise medical bills over ~$500.
  • The shift toward a more consumer-focused mindset continues to grow, and patients’ attitudes toward hospital payments reflect that. Patients believe that understanding and paying a hospital bill should be straightforward and simple.
  • Paying off an entire hospital bill, even one with a small balance, is sometimes just not possible for certain patient populations. Offering payment plans allows patients to pay off their balances as they are able, without the fear of being sent to collections.
  • As uncertainty around hospital bills grow and patients bear more responsibility for costs, successful organizations will be those that offer flexibility and clarity for patients’ hospital bills.

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What are providers’ challenges with payments?

  • Without a robust financial counseling staff, the primary users asking patients for money are front-desk check-in staff, and they are not usually the best equipped for that task.
  • Providers tend to have little to no insight into who their patient populations are from a financial perspective. Without this information, offering customized payment plans is hard to implement and difficult to measure effectively.
  • When organizations have enough information to provide payment plans, they often lack the analytical reporting tools to measure their effectiveness.

What are Compassionate Collections?

  • One of the key goals of the project was to introduce empathy into the interaction of asking a patient for money.
  • Educating and empowering front-line staff to have more meaningful conversations with patients allows organizations to collect more payments upfront and more confidently project which patients will be able to pay post-service.
  • Providers and organizations should work to instill a culture of empathy across all activities related to patient payments – meeting the patients where they are results in more fiscally knowledgeable and satisfied patients.

If you’re interested in participating in our next Healthcare Advisory Board meeting, please reach out and let us know. We’re always on the lookout for new members to join us for a little industry knowledge share. We’d love to have you.

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