Originally published in the September/October 2016 Issue of The PAHCOM Journal - www.PAHCOM.com
The culture you create within your office has a direct impact on how well your team is able to collect money, and it all starts at the top. It is up to the leadership within your practice to set the culture, and to hire and empower a team to sustain it. An emotionally engaged workforce leads to an emotionally engaged patient, which contributes to organizational success.
Leading by Example
Leadership that leads with a servant’s heart, and that is engaged, consistent, and genuine, is an example to the entire team of how they can serve patients.
Engaged If your workforce is not engaged and committed to providing an exceptional patient experience from registration through billing, the patient will not be either. Patients who had a less than satisfactory experience are far more likely to object to paying their balance. As consumerism in health care grows, satisfaction is no longer good enough. You must give them what they want before they even have to ask for it, elevating the transaction from satisfaction to engagement. Only a team that is engaged and committed to providing a quality experience will make the effort to preemptively provide what the patient needs. For example, providing a patient with an estimate prior to services being rendered and discussing payment options in advance can prevent confusion upon receipt of their bill, and can lead to more prompt payment without the need for collections.
Consistent What is a good patient experience? If you can’t answer that definitively, neither can your staff. Determine what creates an exceptional experience from beginning to end, and train your staff to follow that procedure every time. Not only does consistency help to maintain your culture, it also reinforces your expectations of your patients. Part of this process should be adherence to the financial policy, and collecting co-pays up front, every single time. While exceptions will occur, if your policies are shared and enforced at each visit, your patients will better understand the process, and exceptions will occur less frequently.
Genuine You are in the business of providing care, and you need a team that is genuinely committed not only to caring for your patients, but also to sustaining the business of your practice. Staff members who take the time to establish relationships and to truly understand your patients’ needs and financial capabilities can make all the difference in receiving payment in a timely manner. The proper methods for verifying eligibility, providing an accurate estimate, and collecting at the time of service are all skills that can be taught. Genuineness cannot be taught or faked; it is something you must hire for.
Finding the Right People for the Job
There are three core competencies every person on your team must have in order to be successful at collecting from patients: industry knowledge, collection skills, and a positive attitude. The first two can be taught, but attitude cannot. Building the right team can help develop and sustain the culture you desire within your practice. Hiring people with CARE will make a difference when extending your culture to your patients.
Character and values are foundational to success and do not ever change. While skills and processes can be taught, character is inherent in an individual.
Attitude is about what we choose. It requires sacrifice; at times we must choose to rise above our circumstances. Your team’s actions will match their attitude, and with the right attitude they will adopt the culture you have created and extend it to your patients.
Respect is at the heart of caring. When your staff truly respects your patients, they will know that your entire office cares for their well-being, both physically and financially.
Enthusiasm is directly related to the amount of effort the team member will put forth. When they care about their job, their co-workers, and their patients, they will have a desire to provide the best service possible.
Building a Culture worth Celebrating
Finally, the leadership within your practice needs to reward and celebrate the team. Extend the same commitment that you make to your patients to your staff, and they will extend that commitment on to your patients. Give your employees purpose to create a connection, rather than training them to do a function, and recognize the effort they put forth. Understanding that they will be recognized for commitment to your financial success will lead to more of the same behavior.
Excellence is created by design. Your services can always be rivaled by a competitor, but what often cannot be rivaled is culture. Put the tools in place to maintain that culture and create purpose within your employees to keep your patients coming back with payment.
Are you ready to start building and transforming your team for cultural success? Download our free webinar on demand: "How to Build a Ridiculously Successful Team" by clicking the image below!
Written by Mark Schabel, CEO, Receivables Management Partners (RMP) & Ali Bechtel, Digital Marketing Manager for AR Logix/RMP. Mark and Ali presented "Collecting from Patients - The Human Component" at the 28th Annual PAHCOM Conference in October in Clearwater, Florida!
This information is not intended to be legal advice and may not be used as legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. Every effort has been made to assure this information is up-to-date as of the date of publication. It is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of the law in any area, nor should it be used to replace the advice of your own legal counsel.