Reimbursement track: Don't be afraid to collect what's yours

Friday, August 24, 2012

With every outstanding dollar a premium in today’s HME business, the Medtrade 2012 reimbursement track has a heavy emphasis on patient collections. Seminar leaders plan several sessions dedicated to helping providers collect money that is rightfully owed to them, but is often overlooked or dismissed.

One of the main reasons why providers miss these dividends is fear, said Jane Wilkinson-Bunch, president of Jane’s Healthcare Consulting.

“We have become so scared of making patients and referral sources mad when we attempt to collect what is owed to us that we have a tendency to just write it off,” said Bunch, host of the session, “Collect Your Money Timely and Keep It,” on Monday, Oct. 15, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. “Unfortunately, we cannot write these balances off any longer.”

Kit Shellhouse, director of operations for ECS Billing, cites “low priority” as another reason.

“Many providers simply are not able to focus on the smaller balances due to resources and time constraints,” she said. “But the need at this point is essential for survival, pure and simple.”

In her program, “Times are Changing, Patient Collections in a New Economy,” on Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Shellhouse will discuss how patients typically reject co-pays due to policy confusion.

“A majority of the patients do not fully understand their policies and feel that the provider should assume the liability of dollars owed,” she said. 

Providers need to be more assertive with patients about the money they owe without worrying about how the referral source will react, said Roberta Domos, president of Domos Healthcare Consulting Group, whose presentation, “Tips for Tackling Patient Collections,” is Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

“The healthcare industry has changed substantially,” she said. “It is not uncommon for patients to have insurance plans that require co-pays for physician visits. This seems to have changed some referral source attitudes about the need to collect patient-owed balances. Most referral sources—and even patients—will understand the collection efforts if the patient has had multiple opportunities to pay a bill.”