Collections: Gather true AR picture

Q. How do I determine whether outsourcing patient collections is right for my company?
Friday, August 23, 2013

A. To determine if this is a true need, the provider must become familiar with patient balances at that moment to include accounts receivable buckets in detail and know the acceptable percentage in each. This will assist you in determining the overall need to outsource or not. If kept in house, the right person must be in place to lead. 

Break down the process systematically and see where and how the process failed to avoid repetition moving forward. Use the data from the accounts receivable reporting and create a trending by month. To collect solid data, it must be a minimum of six months. Find reliable resources that are available and start digging in (collection management companies, associations, educational seminars).

If you decide to outsource, the current patients must be re-educated and the new protocol needs to be enforced. An audit is necessary on current patient accounts to assist with “starting fresh.” Write off what is not collectible and ensure the AR is true AR. Follow the new protocol, and enforce and decide from the start what degree of aggressiveness to use when collecting patient balances. Educate patients on collections practices, payment processing (ease for patient and staff) and legal or settlement options on open balances. Use the reporting in the billing system to build an ROI (coding to collect data), and use it to trend and manage based on the overall activity of the department. Patient collections can be handled in house or outsourced—the determining factor is knowing where the department stands currently with staffing.

Kit Shellhouse is vice president of operations for ECS Billing & Consulting North. Reach her at or 419-448-5332.