Six Pitfalls to Avoid in a Healthcare Call Center to Drive More Cash

It’s no secret that running an efficient modern healthcare call center can be a struggle. Health systems are currently facing unprecedented challenges, including skyrocketing costs, high labor shortages and increasingly more money left uncollected, resulting in monumental losses and long-term negative margins.

Given the challenging financial situation most health systems are facing, investing in a patient account resolution strategy is no longer a suggestion, it’s a necessity. 

In a recent Becker’s Healthcare webinar, Michelle Braymer, R1 senior vice president of Operations, and Brian Wiley, vice president of Client Success at R1, discussed how investing in a modern healthcare call center and patient account resolution (AR) strategy can help identify net-new cash, reduce costs, and improve the patient satisfaction.  

Why patient account resolution matters now more than ever

The healthcare industry is facing a unique set of challenges: increasing costs, an incredibly tight labor market, and increases in patient financial responsibility. This perfect storm makes it difficult for health systems to deliver on their mission of providing high quality care while also capturing the revenue necessary to sustain financial health.  

While digital solutions have improved patient account resolution and patients increasingly want digital self-service tools, there will always be a need for a compassionate human touch when working on patient payment account resolution, especially for more complex cases. 

There are currently four main areas that are hindering health systems’ patient payment resolution efficiency: 

  • The growing cost to recruit and retain employees which is driving a higher cost to collect. 
  • An unsatisfactory patient experience that can be disjointed across touchpoints and lead to high escalation rates. 
  • Outdated infrastructure across multiple vendors, resulting in limited data visibility. 
  • Lack of a holistic strategy while continuing to focus on individual metrics instead of envisioning the full patient experience across touchpoints. 

To help combat these issues, check out these six modern healthcare call center pitfalls to avoid as identified by Braymer and Wiley. 

Don’t overengineer on paper as a channel. Not everybody wants a paper statement.
“Working to try to redesign and perfect this paper statement at the end of the day is not going to yield you better results… It’s important to remember that every envelope, every stamp, every piece of paper, postage… all of that adds up. It’s amazing to me how much is spent on literally just getting that statement out the door to the patient.” – Michelle Braymer

Don’t assume people are uncomfortable with digital. Digital is more economical, and you can use that to your advantage. 
“Patients are getting more and more comfortable with digital. It’s just as easy to download an online statement and save it to your home computer for things like tax purposes, as an example, than to put that piece of paper in a folder at home.” – Michelle Braymer

Don’t be afraid to use integrated global call center services to help solve labor and cost challenges. 
“We have multiple locations to really help balance what we’ve seen in the attrition area. I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve been to the Philippines quite a few times to interact with them and see how they’ve set up their operations there. I’m continually impressed with what they’re capable of doing and how they’re interacting with our patients. Across the board we are able to balance that interaction between the states and the offshore resources and ensure we’re giving the patient the appropriate experience.” – Michelle Braymer

Don’t create a disjointed patient experience. Patients expect convenience and the best possible personalized payment options. 
“[Some] vendors don’t focus on anything other than dialing for dollars. They don’t focus on patient experience, they’re not aligned with customer strategic goals, they have fragmented processes and limited data elements. At the end of the day, they’re just not providing a cohesive approach.” – Michelle Braymer

Don’t prioritize tactics over strategy. Focus on more than SLA and calls answered and use analytics and feedback to your advantage. 
“There’s a constant open dialogue of what’s working, what’s not working, where is there opportunities that we’re not seizing? We can look at things from a numbers perspective and make an ultimate determination, but where you get the results and see if it works is through the feedback loop. Some of that feedback loop will certainly come through data… but the feedback loop that we really want to hear is coming directly from the patients’ mouth, and that’s what’s really important.” – Brian Wiley

Don’t expect multiple partners to provide a unified experience for your patients. 
“The ultimate problem becomes how so many industries have elevated the expectations of the consumer regarding what you know about them, and how you interact with them. It’s really important to have all of your touchpoints on the same page. Touchpoints could be staff, it could be technology. It’s presenting that to the consumer and the patient so they feel like they are getting a treatment that says you know them, you understand them, and you want to solve their problem. That’s really hard when you’re operating in such a siloed fashion where the goals aren’t aligned.”- Brian Wiley 

Learn more about running an effective modern healthcare call center

When it comes to getting started with optimizing your patient payment account resolution strategy, Brian Wiley has some parting words for health systems, saying they should be working back from their strategy. Wiley advises health systems to be deliberate with their actions and understand that it takes a continuous investment in your patient account resolution strategy, coupled with an open feedback environment to improve.  

For even more dos and don’ts for modernizing the health system call center to reduce costs, increase patient satisfaction, and drive new cash, watch the full Becker’s Healthcare webinar

Discover top trends affecting the revenue cycle – and how to address them –  with the 2023 Revenue Intelligence™ Data and Insights Report.