When we consider what has shaped healthcare receivables management, nothing jumps out more that government legislation and technology. In terms of legislation, the Affordable Care Act has had the greatest impact. First, while we did experience more consumers being covered by some sort of insurance via networks and expanded Medicaid programs, we also saw a major spike in the cost of deductibles and coinsurance. This, of course, puts more burden on patients for assuming the costs of care, which in turn causes them to question all charges and hospital bills, which then puts more pressure and responsibility on those answering the questions and providing customer service. Not only is good customer service necessary for handling these types of situations, but payment by Medicare and others could hinge on customer satisfaction.

Second, the Affordable Care Act brought about all the changes in providing charity care because of 501r, specifically to nonprofit entities. Now the federal government tells you how, who, and when to provide that charity care and, in fact, outlines the various steps you have to take to ensure you do so without extraordinary collection efforts. Mark Rukavina, one of our guest writers this quarter, does an excellent job of summarizing what is required under 501r in his article.

The other recent government action that is shaping how we approach receivables is the FCC’s guidelines on cell phones. Without the proper consent, which we’ve touched on in past articles, we cannot use technology, like an automatic contact platform to make calls, and must make sure we know when someone revokes the permission to call a cell phone or changes cell phone numbers. All of these requirements are tough to follow when land lines are becoming a thing of the past. Tom Haag’s message has highlighted the dilemma we are facing in this area.

While the future may be getting cloudier, we can shape it to ensure we continue providing the best possible service to our clients and their customers. As we look ahead, we know that consumerism will continue to be extremely important in the future. We’ve talked about how we use CallMiner to analyze 100% of our calls as one more means of ensuring all patient accounts are handled extremely well.

Until now, the data we have utilized for analysis is 24 hours old. In an effort to shape the future of call handling for our clients, we have recently signed an agreement with CallMiner to implement their LIVE product – pretty amazing stuff! This new product allows us to ensure that our representatives are asking the right questions, at the right time, and providing the right information. If, for any reason, the system recognizes that the representative is faltering as they speak, a light indicator will change from green to yellow immediately on the screen – hopefully, our representatives will never see the light turn to red. At that point, the representative knows right away if something is going wrong, providing the opportunity to make the necessary adjustment or request a supervisor to intervene. In addition, the system has the ability to judge the representative’s or the patient’s tone of voice, emotion, and anxiety level, and will change color if either party is becoming upset.

We expect the EurekaLive product to help us further improve our already excellent customer service model on every call. We know that mistakes can happen and now have the ability to correct any issues immediately on the front end and not a day or two later. Using CallMiner Live, we can now monitor and adhere to any regulation, guideline, or rule immediately, including ensuring that we have authorization to call a cell phone or get a patient signed up for eNotices, mobile payments or wherever technology takes us in the future.

At the end of the day, however, no matter how much things change, this continues to be a people business. We will always provide the right tools to our staff, but we know we must also maintain a well-trained, customer-focused staff that is committed to providing excellent service to our clients. In this issue, we highlight some recent graduates of our Future Leaders Program, one our most successful training programs. I hope you’ll take a moment to read about their experience with the program – I am certain you will walk away with even more confidence that we are hard at work shaping the future.

While we cannot always affect government regulations, we can learn about them, understand them, and use them to ensure we are doing right by our clients and their customers. Most importantly, we know that we will continue to do it better than anyone else as we work to shape the future of healthcare receivables.

About State Collection Service, Inc.

Since 1949, State Collection Service has provided quality collection service to countless healthcare organizations.

Through experience and innovation, State Collection Service has grown to become a tremendously credible and nationally-recognized collection agency offering services from pre-registration to bad debt. It is upon the basis of ethical behavior and a dedication to integrity that each State Collection Service employee works to uphold the company’s vision – Partnerships for a Lifetime.

*This article first appeared in “A State Collection Service, Inc. Newsletter Volume 22, Issue 1, First Quarter 2016”