Benefits of Partnering With Collection Agencies

Katie Louden, Communications Specialist

Many health care providers have already partnered with a professional collection agency to improve their chances of recovering past due balances. From traditional collection services to training, charity care screenings and business service operations–collection partners provide an array of services to help health care providers achieve their accounts receivable management goals. “A collection agency is a for-profit organization, and the return on its assets is also a return to the provider,” said Kevin Hough, president at Corpra Care Inc., in Houston, Texas. “The bottom line is that providers and their vendors are partners, and the relationship should be viewed as a united team effort toward profitability for both of them.” Patient self-pay responsibilities are continuing to grow and health care providers have seen their self-pay portfolios increase dramatically, creating even more of a demand for collection partners.

“The self-pay growth trend is expected to continue to grow in the future, and health care providers are not equipped to handle large volumes of smaller patient self-pay accounts because their information systems are focused on the large balance third-party insurance receivables,” said Tom Gavinski, vice president of the health care division for IC System, Inc. in St. Paul, Minn. Hospitals and health care facilities are seeing tighter operating margins with increased costs and lower reimbursement rates. According to Gavinski, liquidation of the growing self-pay portfolios is becoming even more critical to the financial success of provider organizations. “Health care providers are strapped for capital and cannot afford to invest heavily in either additional human help or information technology within the patient collection process,” Gavinski said. “Providers need to rely on outsourced vendors to help supply them with this human and technical capacity.” Collection partners can assist health care providers with their patient collection needs in several ways. For instance, collection outsource partners can provide in-house training for health care providers. Collection partners can also assist providers with necessary charity care screening and financial assistance application processing. Gavinski stated that many health care providers have begun outsourcing most or even all of their business office collection operations. Many outsourcing partners are expanding their service offerings beyond traditional collection services to better serve the needs of their
provider clients.

“We offer our clients point-ofservice collections during admission, registration and scheduling with the goal of improving in-house cash collections,” Hough said. “We have dramatically enhanced and updated our collection services to include exceptional customer service, which has become a larger demand since the Affordable Care Act incentivizes providers with a bonus program based on good customer care and patient experience.” Health care providers’ community benefits requirements, patient collection processes and tax-exempt statuses remain under continual scrutiny. Providers need experienced and reliable partners who can protect their organizations’ brand and goodwill within their communities. “Providers must maintain a positive image with regulators, legislators, consumers and the media,” Gavinski said. “A competent collection partner will help providers preserve those crucial relationships and keep them healthy.”

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