When done correctly, in-house patient collections can be very effective. However, few medical centers have the staff, experience, technology, and governance needed to effectively run and manage a thorough patient pre-collect process.
As a rule, most back office medical systems and administration are focused on insurance billing and collections, which represents 75%+ of their overall revenue. This leaves little time for patient billing and collections. And, to be truly successful at in-house patient billing and collections, the same focus and attention that’s placed on the insurance side needs to be placed on the patient side.
Since this rarely happens, most in-house attempts at patient balance recovery generate mediocre results. Let’s look at the reality:
Incoming Phone Calls:
We’ve had many administrators tell us that they dread the week after statements go out because of the influx in phone calls.
As one Practice Manager recently stated, “my entire day can be eaten up in just taking the time to explain on the incoming calls what makes up the balance shown on the statement”. The average call time in answering a billing statement question is over 22 minutes.
With an average of 2,250 statements going out per month, even if only 1% of the patients called in with questions, that would eat-up an entire 8 hour day for one FTE – assuming that was ALL they were doing.
Administrators interviewed stated that they were understaffed and not able to handle all the incoming calls. On average, over 20 calls a day go straight to voicemail. When, and if they have time to return the calls, they are rarely able to reach anyone.
This is lost revenue. Patients may be calling to update insurance information, provide a secondary insurance, to get a question answered, or to make a payment on their account.
Outgoing Patient Phone Calls:
If the staff doesn’t have the time to effectively deal with incoming calls, which represents a small percentage of their patient base, how are they going to find the time to make outbound phone calls?
Staffing personnel to reach out to a large number of the patient base is extremely costly. And, getting a hold of them during regular office hours is difficult, if not impossible.
It is easy to see why most medical billing personnel are overwhelmed when it comes to reaching out to the patients during the 90-120 day pre-collect timeframe.
With so many factors to consider, and so much money left on the table, outsourcing the pre-collect process may be worth considering.