With plummeting allowables and rising costs, it is more important than ever to be able to collect the patient portion of what is allowed for equipment or services. There needs to be a culture change in the mindset of HME employees. For years collecting the patient portion has been lax and has never been a real priority. Patients have been taught by the industry that the rates being charged are “flexible” and can be negotiated.

The patient portion of your allowed is essentially your profit. Not collecting the patient portion means you are barely breaking even on most product lines. HME providers need to take a lesson from physician offices. In a physician’s office they are upfront with their fees, they are unapologetic and often guilt-free about collecting the copay upfront. They have taught the patient that this is the expected process and if you want to see the doctor you need to pay your copay.

Obviously, HME providers operate a little differently butbeing upfront and transparent about copays and being diligent on collecting them is crucial. [pullquote_left]being upfront and transparent about copays and being diligent on collecting them is crucial[/pullquote_left] That seems pretty basic but what does that mean in terms of practical application in the HME world?

First and foremost, there seems to be a common undertone of feeling guilty for asking the patient for the copay. Stop feeling guilty. The price is the price!  This is your profit!

Second, communicate openly with the patient what their financial responsibility will be. If you’re going to have financial hardship issues, it’s best to handle them up front. This is a great business and customer service practice.

Third, make sure your customer service reps are trained to handle the conversation properly.  Have a script to handle the different scenarios that may arise on the phone or in person with the patient.

Fourth, if the products are rentals with a recurring copay, get a credit/debit card from the patient.  Explain the patient what day each month the copay will be collected.  Let them know that the delivery tech will leave behind paperwork as a reminder for them (unless you have a text/email system to do so) Lastly, when a delivery is being made, collect the copay first.  Get the uncomfortable processes out of the way first so that you can always end on a positive experience with the patient.  After all, what do you want their last memory of your visit to be?  Taking their money or making them feel comfortable?

Finally, having the policies and procedures in place is just half the battle. Getting your staff to comply is the other half. The best way to do this is to make sure you are defining, measuring,  and reviewing their metrics for success. We recommend setting a minimum percent that is expected and then an incentive if they exceed that percent.

For example, each employee is paid to do their job so as part of their job, collecting 85% of all patient copays up front is expected. Collections over 90% of the patient copays in a month would warrant an incentive that is appropriate for the size of the company. Not only will this improve the mindset of the staff of collecting the copays, this improves your cash flow and to some extent it improves the customer experience.

Gathering this data to measure is not difficult but it certainly depends on the software that you are using.  If you are struggling with how to get this information or what is the best way to track the information, feel free to contact us!

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