Strategic Outsourcing Solutions welcomes new partners

The SOS Group is excited to announce our new partnerships in Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

We are thrilled to be adding Glade Run Medical Associates, Inc (an extension of Armstrong County Memorial Hospital), and Baton Rouge General Medical Center to our list of outstanding partners.  Our team looks forward to working with and assisting the patients in your communities.

Baton Rouge General Medical Center- https://www.brgeneral.org

The SOS Group- http://www.sosgrp.org

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The SOS Group expands with new partnership in Kentucky

The SOS Group (Strategic Outsourcing Solutions) is pleased to announce our new partnership with Murray-Calloway County Hospital. This new partnership now gives The SOS Group partners in 10 states. Our services will be centered around enhancing the post-discharge patient experience, customer service, and collections. We look forward to working with the hospital, the staff, and the patients in the community to build a long successful partnership.

Visit Murray-Calloway County Hospital at: http://www.murrayhospital.org
Visit The SOS Group at: http://www.sosgrp.org

The SOS Group expands into its 9th State-California

The SOS Group (Strategic Outsourcing Solutions) is pleased to announce our new partnership with Healdsburg District Hospital.  Our services will be centered around enhancing the post-discharge patient experience and customer service.  We look forward to working with the hospital and the patients in the community to build a long successful partnership.

Visit Healdsburg District Hospital at: http://www.healdsburgdistricthospital.org

Visit The SOS Group at: http://www.sosgrp.org

 

The SOS Group (Strategic Outsourcing Solutions) has been awarded The Billing (Early-Out) and Debt Collections agreement with Premier, Inc.

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John Prologo
Executive Vice President/National Business Development
jprologo@sosgrp.org
(888) SELF-PAY ext. 2730

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The SOS Group (Strategic Outsourcing Solutions) has been awarded The Billing (Early-Out) and Debt Collections agreement with Premier, Inc.

DATELINE – The SOS Group has been awarded a group purchasing agreement for Billing (Early-Out) and Debt Collections with Premier, Inc. Effective 8/1/2016, the new agreement allows Premier members, at their discretion, to take advantage of special pricing and terms pre-negotiated by Premier for Billing (Early-Out) and Debt Collections. Premier, Inc. is a leading healthcare improvement company, uniting an alliance of approximately 3,400 U.S. hospitals and 110,000 other providers to transform healthcare. Visit their website at http://www.premierinc.com .

The SOS Group is honoured to be selected as a preferred early-out billing and healthcare collections partner. We look forward to providing our dynamic services to Premier Membership. Our services include comprehensive business office/customer service outsourcing for all patient balances whether a true self-pay balance or a patient balance after insurance, and a successful healthcare debt collection service with all the latest collection recovery techniques and technology to increase recoveries.

The SOS Group Early-Out Billing service is geared toward providing Premier Members and their patients with a customized business office extension to alleviate current workload and costs, adding technological enhancements for patient convenience, maintaining a high level of customer service, and driving revenue.

Our Healthcare Debt Collection process is geared toward liquidating delinquent accounts utilizing our 50 + years of healthcare collection experience, experienced healthcare collector teams, and the latest in collection/recovery technology. While our goal is to increase recoveries, we also ensure that we maintain a high level of customer service within our collection service center.
About The SOS Group (Strategic Outsourcing Solutions)

Based in Cleveland, OH, The SOS Group is a nationally recognized receivable solutions firm. Being privately held, and boasting an A+ Rating with the BBB, we are big enough to handle any business and small enough to give each partner the personal attention that they deserve. The SOS Group excels in its ability to stay ahead of industry standards. The SOS Group incorporates a dedicated team philosophy for each of our partners. We have modeled our entire business center with these segmented teams and phone lines with the goal of getting to know your patients better; Thus, creating a better level of comfort which will allow our staff to explore all balance resolution avenues whether in an extended business office status or collection status. Our specialties consist of early-out/customer service call center, pre-collect, specialized outbound call campaigns, inbound call overflow outsourcing, 1st placement collections, and 2nd placement collection services. We have the ability to customize all services to fit each and every partner’s needs. The SOS Group will incorporate your missions and values to ensure the dedicated team is truly tailored to your specific needs. In turn, this provides cohesiveness and drives revenues while maintaining a high level of customer service. We are here for you and look forward to working together to customize a program that best suits you and your community. I invite you to read and join/review our blog at https://thesosgroup.wordpress.com/. I believe that will give you some true insight on just how dedicated we are to being a leader in the industry. Additionally, please visit our website at http://www.sosgrp.org. You can also see us on Facebook, and Follow and Like us on LinkedIn.

The SOS Group Announces Partnership with Penn Highlands Healthcare

The SOS Group and Penn Highlands Healthcare would like to announce a new partnership. The partnership will be centered around enhancing the post discharge patient experience, and allowing Penn Highlands Healthcare to standardize its processes across the three hospital system. Knowing that patients are first at Penn Highlands, The SOS Group will work extensively to increase customer service to help enhance the patient experience. The SOS Group is looking forward to a long successful partnership with Penn Highlands Healthcare.

Visit Penn Highlands Healthcare website at: http://www.phhealthcare.org/
Visit The SOS Group website at http://www.sorgrp.org

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ENHANCING THE POST-DISCHARGE PATIENT EXPERIENCE

In such a competitive time where health systems are building hospitals and urgent care centers sometimes across the street from each other, I believe how much you value your patients experience post discharge should be your life line. Moreover, with social media in play, your patient’s opinions about you will be seen by more people than ever before. Most health systems and physician groups have/maintain a high level of care, and have facilities with aesthetically pleasing surroundings. However, what happens to the patient after they leave the facilities may be the most important part of their stay, and you staying in business.
I will be sharing what our experiences have been as an extended business office, and some philosophies that we have encountered in our 23 years working with health systems and physician groups.
It is important to look first at how and when you are reaching out to your patients, post-discharge. After the normal process of billing and eligibility (Financial Assistance or Medicaid), a patient liability may and usually does remain.
So, Let’s start with a patient statement. I have seen many different philosophies on building a “perfect patient statement.” With 501r taking hold, these decisions become even more important, as the patient’s options must be clearly laid out with every contact. The question from the health provider has been: Do we create a statement with as much detail as possible and risk confusing the patient? Or do you build a simple statement with easy navigation and charge descriptions? Having been on both ends of the spectrum, the common theme has always been colorful and easy to read. The best result from either side may be that the statement triggers contact with the patient. This phone contact is invaluable both to customer service and liquidation of accounts. Though some education of the patient is done pre-access, this is a great opportunity for you to get to know your patients and explore all options available to them. Additionally, as an extended business office, we have found that almost a third of the patients we speak to, post-discharge, have some type of insurance that was not found during pre-access or their visit, or they do in fact qualify for some type of financial assistance. Taking advantage of this opportunity whether as an extended business office or in-house staff will lead to a better relationship with the patient, which may solidify the patient returning to your facilities for future healthcare.
This leads perfectly to the next step within the process for the patient: How and when phone contact is made to your patients
Whether you utilize an outside firm for an early-out process or not, the health system of physician group has to decide how and when they want to start asking the patient for payment via phone contact. Here again the philosophies are different. Some think that by sending an initial statement and waiting 30-45 days before making the first outbound call is sufficient. This is “the low hanging fruit” theory. The other end, is to try and contact the patient within the first 15-25 days after sending the initial statement. Here the health provider is trying to drive both revenue and customer service. Some feel that the earlier you contact the patient, the better chance you have of resolving the balances and assisting the patient with any concerns or questions. I believe that there is an educational opportunity on both ends within these first 25 days. Meaning, there is an opportunity for us to share the options available to the patient, but also a chance for us to learn about the patient. Things like the patient’s current financial situation, if there are any concerns/questions about their bill, if they have any insurance, etc. may lead the patient down the path of satisfaction and your health system to lower A/R days and increased revenue. We have found more often than not; the patient appreciates the contact earlier. If the contact is customer service/exploratory in nature, it will be better received. There is always an opportunity to build relationships with your patients/customers, but speaking with them earlier in the cycle may help both you and the patient.
Finally, having enough quality staff in place will help solidify your relationship with your patients. Having a great patient statement, and a rock solid post discharge process in place is great. However, your staff, whether in-house or at an extended business office, has to be prepared to relay your message. As we are all aware, we work in small windows within the healthcare receivables industry. Those windows start to close the older an account gets. So, having enough educated staff in place that can relay your missions, values, and is versed on all regulations that govern our industry is a start. However, having a staff in place that can first assist the patient with questions about their service, explore with the patient all possible avenues for balance resolution, and then be able to ask for payment is where the success may lie and end. Having and maintaining quality staff is more important than any technology in our industry. We have found that building a comfort level through a knowledgeable and high quality staff leads to better communication between both parties. If the patient is comfortable, they may be more willing to learn about the options that are available to them to resolve their balances.
No matter the thought process, the patient makes the wheels go round for your health system and physician groups. So, enhancing their post discharge process depends on your willingness to go that extra mile to get the balance resolved and maintain a relationship with your patients.
Whether you have an in-house process, or outsource to an early-out firm here are a few side items that we recommend that will help give you the flexibility to assist you patients better:
1) An IVR is a must- (SELF-SERVICE TECHNOLOGY)
-2 simple options on the IVR of making a payment OR to speak to a live representative will help increase your productivity as a call center, and reduce hold times for your patients

2) Having ENOUGH quality/knowledgeable staff in place to ASSIST the patient will help build relationships and comfort levels for the patients

3) Monitor your abandonment call rates. Goals should be set for wait times and abandonment rates. The better these are the more patients you are helping and the less complaints you will have

4) Design a simple colorful statement that complies with the 501r and relays your missions and values

5) Patient statement portal for statement review and automatic payments (SELF-SERVICE TECHNOLOGY)

6) Quality assurance process to monitor customer service representatives and their results
-Share this with your staff and clients (if an outside vendor)

7) Call/Speech analytic software that will allow for live call monitoring by your managers. Thus, improving your contacts with your patients, and your customer service representative performance
8) Create a patient survey for their post-discharge patient experience. This will be another avenue to monitor your in-house or outsourced process

In the competitive healthcare industry, getting a patient to return to your facilities for future healthcare is the key. Enhancing their patient experience post discharge may be the biggest hurdle to achieving this.

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Strategic Outsourcing Solutions………..The Philosophy

The SOS Group is celebrating 84 years as a leader in the healthcare receivables solutions industry. Based in Cleveland, Ohio we boast an A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau and have healthcare partners in 9 states and growing. The SOS Group is big enough to dedicate a team to your accounts, and small enough to maintain our personal approach to each of our healthcare partners and their patients.
We excel in our ability to stay ahead of industry standards, as well as the ability to create a positive patient experience. We do this by offering a specialized/dedicated team and dedicated phone lines to each partner for all of our services. Because SOS’s corporate philosophy is “Great Patient Experiences do not end at Discharge”, we have modeled our entire business center with these segmented teams and phone lines with the goal of getting to know each patient better; thus creating a better level of comfort for the patient.
As your extended business office, we will educate your patients on their charges, and introduce them to all available balance resolution options. This understanding enhances the patient experience post-discharge, and encourages the patient to return to your facility for future healthcare. We will also incorporate your missions and values to ensure the dedicated team is truly tailored to your specific needs. In turn, this provides cohesiveness and drives revenues while maintaining a high level of customer service

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What are your outsourcing vendor’s 501(r) touch points?

Many health systems partner with an outsourcing vendor for their extended business office (EBO) functions. At THE HMC GROUP we do everything we can to make sure that we become a true satellite business office for the health system. So, that means we have to be in tune with all policies, procedures, mission, and values of the health system so that we can relay them to the patients seamlessly.
In future blog entries, I will talk about creating a comfort level for the patients during this time. However, let’s stick to 501(r) and how/where your early-out vendor’s touch points are while working with your patients. Most importantly, you want your EBO to mirror your 501(r) policies and your interpretations of the regulation:
As an early-out vendor and extended customer service call center, the HMC Group has a minimum of 4 touch points we use to advise the patient of the health system’s charity/financial assistance policies. We also alert the patient to what the future will hold should their bill time out with no payment (i.e., it may be turned over to a collection agency for activity).
1) Statements. Since the process involves customizing and sending of patient statements within the first 120 days of the patient balance, The HMC Group works with the health systems to establish bare minimum verbiage on each statement. This verbiage must express to the patient, at the very least, where or how they can retrieve and learn about getting/qualifying for financial assistance.

2) Inbound customer service message. We have dedicated phone lines for our health systems and their patients. This allows us to detail the hospitals 501(r) policies on the inbound phone message on where or how they can retrieve and learn about getting/qualifying for financial assistance.

3) Outbound customer service message. Whether we leave a manual message (i.e., live person) or a dialer/automated message, the thought process is the same as above (alert the patient where to get and qualify for financial assistance).

4) Live phone contact. We feel it is imperative that our team is trained on all of the policies, procedures, and details of the health systems we service. Right down to directions to the facility and where patients go at the hospital/facility to find out if they qualify for financial assistance. We relay this information to each patient during each live phone contact.

Your EBO is representing your organization and they should ensure your patients are treated well so they’ll return to you for future services.

When to let go?….A story of outsourcing your self-pay balances

In life and in our business settings we are always looking for that “best bang for our buck” type of deal. But I am of the belief you get what you pay for. This is especially true when it comes to a health system or physicians group outsourcing their self-pay balances (True Self-Pay or Residual Balances). I have been in this business for 18 years now, and have spoken to many wonderful people throughout many states about all of the different philosophies when it comes to this process.
The biggest hurdle that each of the business offices deal with is “when do I let go and utilize the EBO?” They struggle with cost, benefit, customer/patient satisfaction, staffing issues, and follow up. The world we live in today is one where each health system and physician/physician group is trying to cut cost while conducting internal processes with minimal resources.
For example, a health system must determine if they:
1) Have or want to have the staff internally to work accounts 30 or 45 days before sending to an early-out vendor
2) Want to absorb the cost for 1 or 2 patient statements and the cost of postage
3) Can contact every patient within this 30-45 day time frame to insure they have exhausted all efforts to recover as many dollars, and uncover/bill as much insurance as possible before sending accounts to the EBO
In most cases, the health system will check no to all of the above.
Sometimes I even hear the theory that the business office wants to get the “cream” in the door, and does not want to give a commission on the “cream” that is recovered with minimal effort or cost. That is fair enough, but what about the other 80-90% of the accounts that do not make a payment? What if you had someone reaching out to ALL patients early in the cycle to ensure that they are getting their statements timely, take a quick payment over the phone, uncover new/secondary insurance, qualify the patient for charity, set the patient up on a bank loan, or set the patient up on a payment plan all within the first 30 days? Instead of just sending one statement and counting on those “cream” dollars to come in-That 80-90% probably goes down to 50-60%.
However, business offices will still struggle with sending the account to the EBO at Day 1 of patient liability.
Those health systems or physicians groups that choose to hold or work accounts in house must be ready to face such challenges as:
1) How will your overall customer service be affected? The patient will have 2 entities in which to speak to resolve their balances. For example, an account is sent to an EBO at day 30, and then the EBO sends out a statement with a different phone number for contact. This same patient then comes in for new service and has a new bill. They then get a bill from your internal process, and maybe a phone call. This patient now has to speak and work with 2 different customer service call centers to try and resolve their balances. Not to mention trying to read 2 different statements
2) Does your internal department make outbound calls to ALL patients before they send accounts to the EBO? In most cases, to get to all your patients, you will have to have a predictive dialer or a large amount of FTEs to make outbound calls. It is best to try and give all of your patients the benefit of at least 1 phone attempt before they are sent to the early-out company if the business office is going to try and work accounts in house. That may be in the only way to get the “best bang for your buck.”
Finally, the going rate in 2015 for a Day 1 service has been adjusted down to the low single digits due to such a competitive market place. So, the cost would be minimal to recover more dollars quicker, alleviate costs, and alleviate workload immediately. If the comfort level is still not there, may I recommend a tiered fee structure whereas the fee goes up the older the account gets. This will create a smaller fee up front where there might be the cream accounts.
So that is the dilemma. After being in the industry for 18 years, I believe that the best bang for your buck happens when you work with a vendor to customize a dedicated Day 1 EBO that is tailored to your health system and patients. Unless your health system or physician group has a large call center and the technology, you are leaving dollars on the table not outsourcing at Day 1. You are also letting a chance to lower your A/R days slip away.
I know that you are probably saying to yourself….Of course he likes the Day 1 philosophy, he is on the vendor side. Again, that’s fair, but our company is in business because we have long tenured business partnerships. The main reason is that we concentrate on the patient experience and customer service. We believe that starts with getting all the accounts under one roof, and getting in touch with all the patients sooner rather than later.

Open lines of communication = a better patient experience and better cash flow

How do your hospital’s registration or billing departments communicate with patients when it comes to their insurances, financial assistance, payment policies, and what portion of the bill they may be responsible for? Are you are doing enough? What about your vendors? Folks like you Eligibility vendors, EBOs, and your collection agencies. What are their goals in communicating your policies, procedures, and values to your patients?
A good patient experience should not end at discharge. There are many opportunities to enhance the patient experience at every level. Yes, even in collections.
At The SOS GROUP we enhance the patient experience in both our early-out customer service call center and healthcare bad debt collections service center by working to create a comfort level for the patients. What do I mean by comfort level? Patients get calls from telemarketers, collection agencies, and other random places every day. How can we as the hospitals EBO or collection agency, increase our chances of getting them on the phone, let alone getting them to stay on the phone? This is where the rubber meets the road, and where recovery percentages and cash goals thrive or go to die.
We dedicate a team and phone lines to each of our health systems. At first we thought this may be difficult to do. But we have seen our results improve, and more importantly, an increase in customer service satisfaction. We believe it is because the patients have become comfortable with the people they are working with. Additionally, having dedicated phone lines has helped. These dedicated lines produce numbers like an average hold time of 59 seconds or less, and an abandonment rate of less than 5%. So, the patient is able to get a live person quicker which also helps this “comfort level.”
We have also found that if the patient is comfortable, the lines of communication are wide open. This is our chance to educate the patient on the charges, where to get a financial assistance application, what the payment plan parameters are, answer questions on insurances or Medicaid, and obtain new demographic or insurance information, etc. The patient is staying on the line with us! And we are assisting them on all options to get their balance resolved. That’s the goal.
This understanding enhances the patient experience and encourages the patient to return to your facility for future healthcare.
Communicating with your patient from beginning to end will help you not only achieve your cash goals, but create a happy patient.