As national out-of-pocket-expenses for healthcare costs rise, TeleVox helps hospitals and other healthcare providers reduce bad debt stemming from unpaid medical bills.
MOBILE, Ala., December 6, 2012 — Televox Software, the leading provider of patient engagement communications (EC) services today launched its patient self-pay solution, a new IVR payment platform that makes it easy for patients to pay outstanding balances by phone. The new TeleVox patient self-pay solution has already had a major impact on both resource allocation and cash flow for healthcare providers, with early reports from some organizations showing a more than 20 percent improvement in accounts receivable.
For example, prior to implementing TeleVox’s patient self-pay solution, Vanderbilt Medical Group was having difficulty contacting patients to collect unpaid medical bills. “We couldn’t hire enough staff members to make the thousands of patient calls every week required to collect unpaid accounts,” said Drea Gaffney, Assistant Director of Patient Collections, Vanderbilt Medical Group. “TeleVox removed the burden on my staff with the capacity of the patient self-pay solution to make thousands of calls per day compared to 10 full-time staff people making about 800 calls per day. We’ve been able to stop working Saturday hours and instead rely on TeleVox’s outbound calls and IVR capabilities to facilitate payments.”
Across the healthcare industry, outstanding self-pay balances are increasing significantly and receivables are growing faster than patient revenue. “Self-pay revenue is the most difficult for healthcare providers to collect,” said Scott Zimmerman, President of TeleVox. “Often, patients don’t pay their bills simply because they are confused by the complicated billing process. They frequently struggle to decipher how much they owe after insurance kicks in and they don’t want to over-pay; so, they set the bill aside.”
A recent study published by McKinsey Quarterly shows that while 74 percent of insured consumers are willing and able to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses totaling less than $1,000 a year, many fail to make such payments due to a lack of financing options or confusion over complex medical billing processes. As a result, provider collection rates hover between 50 to 70 percent for small dollar liabilities due from insured patients and plummet to just 10 percent for uninsured patients.
The TeleVox self-pay solution enables healthcare providers to decrease outstanding self-pay account balances, without alienating their patients in the process. “TeleVox specializes in connecting with ‘lazy payers’ — those who can pay but simply forget, set their mail to the side, or are confused by medical billing statements,” said Zimmerman. “Our patient self-pay option provides an easy and interactive way for them to make immediate payment.”
TeleVox’s self-pay functionality places automated telephone calls to patients to deliver messages such as, “This is a courtesy call to advise you that your balance in the amount of $250 is outstanding. Press the 2 key to speak to a member of our staff or press 9 now to make a payment via our automated payment attendant.” There are many other options available to clients, including the ability to leave answering machine messages so patients can pay without having to call the billing center or mail back a check. TeleVox provides best practices for a variety of self-pay outreach strategies, enabling providers to choose the outreach plan that will work best for their specific patient population and complement their financial operations.
When it comes to processing payments, flexibility is built in to TeleVox’s solution. Healthcare providers can choose the complete payment processing solution in which payments are authorized in real-time and deposited into the healthcare provider’s account within 48 hours. Alternately, healthcare providers can select the non-processed option where they collect payment data and store it within West’s PCI-compliant vault, but use their existing provider to process payments. This non-processed option removes the burden of setting up additional Merchant IDs and jeopardizing current processing agreements that are difficult to break.
Industry research indicates that even the best paying patients require an average of 3.3 statements before they pay their bill, stretching a healthcare provider’s time to collect to more than 100 days. And, 81 percent of self-pay net revenues go unrecovered, according to The Advisory Board Company. By adopting self-service payment technologies such as TeleVox’s patient self-pay solution, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare organizations can improve accounts receivable and maintain a healthier bottom line.