4 Improvements to Your Outbound Calling Strategy to Increase Patient Payments
Utopian outbound calling scenario: Ha! You don’t even have an outbound call strategy, because 100% of patients pick up the phone or log in to pay their self pay balance in full as soon as they are aware of the balance.
Actual outbound calling results: At MediRevv, typical patient contact rates for outbound calls land around 30%. Around 1 in 3 people will actually answer when representatives call, at the right time. Among patients who answer the phone, about 50% will pay in full or set up a payment arrangement.
So, how do you build an outbound calling strategy that will continually move the needle, regardless of whether you’re at, above or below 30% currently? (By the way, you can — and should — use your own data to calculate your results, which may vary from ours.)
Below we’ve outlined four ways to increase the percentage of patients who pay. While they are certainly not the only four ways, we’ve found them to be tried and true for maximizing revenue overall.
Check the time
Among the many factors that influence your outbound success rates, patient demographics play a large part in that success rate or failure. For instance, if your patient population is comprised heavily of an older population of retirees you may have more outbound success reaching patients in the morning or early afternoon. If your patient population is largely working aged eight-to-fivers, the lunch hour or late afternoon/early evening might be a key time for contact. Patient population is largely out of your control, but analyzing your data to find the best time to call can increase your success.
Determine which patients are actually going to pay
If your representatives are calling and calling, but not collecting the cash, investing in a propensity to pay tool will enable you to segment the patients most likely to pay from those least likely, effectively answering the question “Who should I call first?”
As part of MediRevv’s outbound calling strategy, patient accounts are segmented into categories using — not credit scores! — eBureau, a platform that aggregates reports from 45 independent databases containing 300 billion records and covering 99% of the U.S adult consumer population. This trough includes data hierarchies for individual, household and neighborhood information, and a score is assigned from 0 to 999, with the higher number indicating a higher probability of payment. Accounts are segmented into four quadrants based on the eBureau score and the account balance owed:
Tier 1: 60% of patient payments – highest propensity, allow time to pay before spending effort
Tier 2: 20% of patient payments – high propensity, spend effort to receive payment timely
Tier 3: 15% of patient payments – low propensity, spend effort to secure payment
Tier 4: 5% of patient payments – lowest propensity, focus messaging on financial assistance
Our demonstrated success has proven that spending the most amount of effort on the middle segment (Tier 2 & Tier 3) will actually move the needle in the right direction.
First, it’s imperative that you set clear expectations for payment early on to move the account toward resolution.
The fact that the balance is owed should not be new information to the patient on the receiving end of an outbound call.
Over 90% of patients who are on the outbound dialing campaign should have already received a statement in the mail. Around 10% may have an address issue or another reason for not receiving the statement, but a courtesy call is a great opportunity to update demographics for future correspondence and inform patients of their outstanding balance.
Second, clarify whether the patient is able to pay the whole balance, half of the balance or if he or she may need a payment plan in order to resolve the account. The negotiation should always go in that order. If the patient makes it clear that he or she is not in a position to pay, financial assistance options should be offered as a last resort.
Be kind and respectful
The most important “rule” for your representatives is to be compassionate with patients while they ask for questions, ask for payment and ultimately collect.
Set your call quality criteria and record all calls. Then measure, reward, and train. At the risk of oversimplifying, having a quality assurance process in place is the only pathway to developing consistency among your patient representatives when it comes to understanding every issue and interacting with each patient in a positive manner.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to move the needle on self pay collections, and if you’re expecting — as you should — that such a move will impact your revenue overall, start with an inward look. Your decisions should be based on your data – your call volumes, your patient population, your ability to integrate technology to help with propensity to pay, your call quality criteria, and so on.
Use your data to develop strategies that will boost patient revenue and drive the entire organization toward to improved patient engagement — which isn’t so unattainably “utopian” after all.