5 questions to ask to ensure you’re maximizing resources
by Bruce Gehring

If you’re not asking yourself what you can automate on a regular basis, you may be falling behind the competition and not getting the most out of your budget.

Outsourcing may be the key to improving your productivity. According to Flatworld Solutions, “Outsourcing is being embraced by organizations of all sizes and domains. From startups to large enterprises, outsourcing continues to be the tool of choice to gain competitive advantage in the business scenario.”

Assess what you do well within your organization and determine where you may not have the expertise or resources to accomplish critical operational functions efficiently. Consider outsourcing those areas you do not have the expertise or resources to manage.

More than half of home medical equipment (HME) providers are using partners for collections, deliveries, insurance billing and compliance to take advantage of automation and scale to improve their operational efficiency rates.

Regardless of your company size, a strong case can be made for outsourcing your billing and collection efforts with a focus on driving more and faster cash recovery while reducing operating expenses. But selecting a vendor can be daunting and time consuming. Here are a few questions to answer to bring your goal for this service into focus:

1. What tasks or processes do you want to outsource?

Do you need help with a specific project or a full range of automated services? Billing and collection services can include statements and follow-up phone calls, edelivery, first-party and third-party collections, call center services and payment portals. That’s a lot to find in one place, so look for solid integrations with the various systems and a single point of contact for as many of the services as possible.

Transparency is key. Check the contract details for all aspects of the service and ask for a sample of the monthly bill to ensure each charge is clearly described in the agreement. Understanding your possible monthly bills during the vetting process will save a lot of time each month when you reconcile your bill to the actual service that has been performed.

2. How much involvement from the service provider do you anticipate?

This is where you realize the differences between a vendor and a partner. A vendor provides basic services that are set from the beginning and run automatically without your input. This is ideal for a simple process where one solution fits all providers, such as generating generic monthly statements.

A partner consults and customizes a solution, works with you to solve problems and make enhancements and advocates for you within the industry and the partner’s organization. A partner is ideal if you expect or want services geared specifically toward your organization—especially if they understand no two clients are the same.

3. What will automation mean to your operation?

This answer depends on your staff’s openness to change. Specific goals for improving cost savings and cash recovery, along with directives and incentives, are often necessary to focus team efforts on embracing automation. Resistance to change can severely limit the cost effectiveness of any service.

4. Does the provider’s communication & culture align with yours?

The growth of your business depends on repeat customers. That’s why brand preservation and customer communication are so critical. It can be accomplished by aligning your company with a vendor that has a similar mission and purpose and allows you to be in control of your own messaging. Here are some suggested questions to ask the provider:

  • Can all patient calls and statements be customized?
  • Are the messages easy to understand?
  • Are statements in color?
  • Are statements available electronically?
  • Can customers make payments and manage their account online?

Most communication plans are a combination of letters, live phone calls and messages. When designing your plan, flexibility is key. Incorporate automation into your workflow where possible and verify that you can adjust the timing as needed to meet your business goals.

5. What do their clients say?

Just as you research your prospective employees, you want to check your potential vendor’s references. References share positive comments, so it is important to pose the right questions to learn how day-to-day communication, project requests, reporting, etc. are managed, such as:

  • What is the prospect’s attitude around service? Do they go the extra mile to find the right solution, do they listen and are they motivated to get you results?
  • Does the company respond to calls and emails in a timely fashion?
  • Do they share information and serve as a consultant when needed?
  • Do they report on their own performance and help you determine your key performance indicators?
  • How effectively and quickly are system issues resolved?
  • Reaping the Rewards

    The primary reason most companies consider outsourcing is to reduce and control operating costs. By automating processes, you can expect to reduce your overhead, reduce errors and improve your recovery. For example, the typical improvement in recovery by outsourcing your patient pay billing and collections can easily be more than 20%. Technology will improve staff effectiveness because employees will no longer have to print statements, stuff envelopes, meter mail and make follow-up phone calls. Once you have established your procedures, technology will follow your billing guidelines. Accounts will automatically flow through the collection process unless stopped manually.

    The second most popular reason to outsource is to improve your company’s focus. By using a billing and collections partner, you can free up your internal resources to concentrate on your operations and find other ways to boost your revenue. Billing and collection rules change on a regular basis. When you have a partner in the field, you do not have to worry about the latest change in regulation. Your letters, statements and phone calls will always be compliant.

    Lastly, you may be able to offer more services to your patients. Payment portals allow customers to pay at their convenience; they also provide your staff the ability to store credit card and banking information at the time of service.

    Outsourcing has become a key business strategy for both small and large businesses. Why? It allows companies to focus on performing the tasks they do best.

    Bruce Gehring is a successful sales and marketing executive with diverse management experience. Since 2008, he has been responsible for business development representing Allegiance Group in the HME/DME industry.  Vist allegiance-group.com.