At the Margins

From collections to competition: How to motivate front office staff


More and more patients are signing up for high-deductible plans, so it’s imperative you have strong point-of-service collection practices to maximize revenue. In fact, the average community hospital in non-Medicaid expansion states sees an additional $500K in bad debt.

To keep up, hospitals and health systems across the country are beefing up their front office capabilities, often by adding new technologies. But even the best technology in the world won't be enough if your staff can't use it effectively or have informed financial conversations with patients.

As a first step, make sure your staff feel prepared to ask patients for money respectfully and effectively. Role playing and scripting will help. Second, it’s critical to get your staff excited about collections! Create a collection campaign that will inspire your staff and encourage them to set new goals.

Point-of-service collections start with you: 4 ways to get your staff on board

I’ve worked with organizations across the country, helping them set up record-breaking collection campaigns and staff incentive programs. Here are some best practices I’ve seen:

1. Gather staff input

Admit it—you’re more likely to agree with a group decision if you’ve had the chance to provide your own input.

Well, the same holds true for your front office team. Enfranchise your staff in decision making for point-of-service collection campaigns. Which local sports team does your staff follow? What television show is the talk of the break room? Have your team lead coordinate with staff to agree on a campaign theme. Not only will your staff feel more engaged in the process, but they’ll also work harder for a campaign they care about.

2. Set individual and team goals

A little friendly competition can bring out the best in people. Across all the organizations I’ve worked with, I’ve seen the most effective ones set both individual and team goals.

First, individual goals encourage high performers to continue to excel and motivate lower performers to improve. Second, team goals encourage collaboration and mentoring between high and low performers, and increase general camaraderie and engagement across the department. I’ve seen this approach dramatically enhance collections at organizations across the country.

Do your performance metrics encourage team performance?

I saw the power of this approach firsthand at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, a 145-bed facility in Kalispell, Mont. Kalispell leadership implemented individual and team goals, with corresponding incentives. The department saw immediate financial gains. In fact, setting goals increased point-of-service collections 13% over the same quarter the previous year. Additionally, Kalispell recorded their highest collection month ever in that same quarter.

3. Evaluate individual performance

Last but not least, take time to review individual performance. Who hit their goals, and how? Who missed them, and why?

Take the time to recognize your high collectors’ accomplishments, and reward them with appropriate incentives. Don’t forget to encourage them to share their best practices with fellow front office staff. Be sure to provide additional training to those who missed their goals. This re-training will set them up for success for future campaigns.

Ready to jump start your point-of-service collections?

As the evolving reimbursement landscape increases patients' financial obligations, your organization is even more at risk for bad debt and decreased patient satisfaction. Payment Navigation Compass partners with you to support staff and patients through this transition by focusing on critical patient access functions. Contact RosenbeA@advisory.com to learn more.

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