6 Questions to Ask a Prospective Vendor to Ensure an Effective Self-pay Strategy

6 Questions to Ask a Prospective Vendor to Ensure an Effective Self-pay Strategy

With more consumers choosing high-deductible plans and assuming greater responsibility for their total costs of care, hospitals and medical practices are increasingly relying on direct payments from patients for a larger portion of their revenue. But as out-of-pocket costs grow, the chances of collecting these payments dwindle, especially for providers that lack the resources to handle the growing volume of patient collections.

To successfully navigate this changing self-pay environment and keep account resolution rates high, hospitals are revamping how they manage patient collections on the front and back end. Outsourcing these accounts to a revenue cycle partner can provide hospitals with the tools and expertise to effectively manage this growing financial class and implement the right tactics to anticipate and manage the costs of resolution.

But how do you find a vendor you can trust that can guarantee an effective self-pay strategy for your hospital? Start by asking these six questions:

1. How do you drive account resolution in an efficient and patient-centric way? Vendors must be savvy about the concerns of patients and what account resolution methods work best for them based on the patient’s financial situation and balance size. This starts with having data to analyze these classes of patients and their ability to resolve their account, while understanding the best approaches for contacting and working with them based on previous interactions.

2. How do you train your personnel? Choose a vendor that invests in training its staff upfront and making sure hires are skilled at customer service and patient education. Do hires have previous customer service or customer interaction experience? Are they outgoing and caring? Make sure your vendor is taking time to not only properly onboard team members, but also provide them with ongoing training to keep their skills sharp.

3. How are patients rating their interactions with you? Vendors should focus on educating patients about their financial responsibility and working with the patient to understand the best option for the patient to resolve the account, or to help the patient seek financial assistance. Patients are more likely to respond to an empathic, educational approach than one focused merely on collections.

4. What’s your process for quality assurance? The best vendor will have a robust quality assurance process that monitors and measures the outcomes of interactions with patients, as well as how patients rate those experiences. Vendors should be able to track and report on these interactions in real-time to provide their teams with specific feedback to enhance performance.

5. How do you incentivize your workforce? Pay attention to how vendors reward employees. Are incentives based around resolution rates or driving a positive patient experience? The more vendors can incentivize their staff to deliver patient-friendly interactions, the more amenable patients are likely to be about resolving their balances.

6. Do you have the knowledge and expertise to manage compliance and legal issues that could expose my hospital to risks? It’s vital that your vendor understands the changing regulatory environment around patient responsibility and financial and legal risks associated with statues, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), as well as state and municipality-specific regulations impacting your patient population base.  Vendors also need to be knowledgeable about regulations for not-for-profit hospitals that provide charity assistance and the various modalities that need to be utilized to ensure patients are made aware of their opportunities to seek financial assistance, and how to do so.