The patient collections race

Friday, August 16, 2013

YARMOUTH, Maine – Invacare’s decision to close Invacare HCS on Aug. 30 has set off a blitz of activity among patient collections companies.

In the wake of the news, Strategic AR and Brightree, which previously had a marketing agreement with Invacare HCS, announced that they would integrate their solutions. Brightree has also hired Invacare HCS exec Lynda Bell.

Then A/R Allegiance Group announced it has partnered with Dave Bargmann, co-founder of HCS, to ramp up sales and marketing efforts. A/R Allegiance Group has also formed a partnership with Universal Software Solutions to develop an integrated solution.

Invacare has declined to say how many Invacare HCS customers are up for grabs. But when Invacare bought HCS from Bargmann and his wife, Lisa Bargmann, in 2008, it had 300 customers.

‘Joined at the hip’

While it’s not uncommon for companies in the industry to have agreements whereby they recommend each other’s respective products and services, Strategic AR and Brightree have plans for an “extremely tight integration” of their patient collections and business management solutions, says Kevin Winkley, president of Strategic AR.

“I can’t divulge what we’re working on, but we’re going to be joined at the hip,” he said. “It won’t be just from a marketing perspective, but from a technology perspective. Our developers are talking to each other, and it’s going to be incredibly integrated.”

Winkley says Strategic AR has hitched its wagon to Brightree because it’s a well-run company with great technology and growing market share.

“We feel like we have strong players and they have strong players,” he said. “It’s a good match.”

‘Blow the roof off’

Bargmann, who turned largely to social media consulting after selling HCS, says he is throwing his hat back in the ring largely out of duty to his former customers.

“When we sold, we had well over 300 customers—and we worked hard to get those customers,” he said. “I’m devastated for those customers.”

Bargmann also believes that A/R Allegiance most looks like the future that he and Lisa Bargmann envisioned for their company before they sold it.

“They offer a blend of everything when it comes to communicating with patients—calls, emails, texts,” he said. “It’s whatever works best for them.”

While A/R Allegiance has mostly stayed under the radar from a marketing perspective, Bargmann has been given permission to “blow the roof off this,” he says.