This is the first in an eight-part blog series about what makes Elevate Recoveries a different kind of collection agency. Instead of mission and vision statements, Elevate Recoveries employs a simple philosophy that we try to instill in our team. The first component of our philosophy is to “engage the positive”.
Working in the collection business is not always easy, and working in healthcare collections is even less so. Unlike credit card debt where the consumer knowingly charges a TV or vacation to their card of choice, healthcare debt is typically unintended. Instead of a single bill from Visa, the healthcare consumer will get multiple bills for a single event: the hospital, the doctor, the lab, maybe an anesthesiologist and even an ambulance company. If the consumer has insurance, there are deductibles, co-pays, maybe even secondary insurance or third-party liability. The healthcare event and subsequent bills can be confusing to the consumer, and trying to explain it to them can be a challenge to the healthcare collector.
The other challenge is that no one lives in a bubble…there are outside influences for the collector such as family issues, financial issues, and world events as a whole. Add to this the negative view most individuals have about collection agencies, and one can see how those in the collection industry can easily become negative, and in some instances even depressed. That is why it is imperative to “engage the positive”.
At Elevate we help our team members do this in a number of ways. To start, we refer to our collectors as payment advisors. This may seem trivial, but it helps to project a positive image on our staff and to the consumer as well. Next, we teach our payment advisors that every contact with the consumer is an opportunity to help them solve a financial problem, and to educate them on how insurance affects the hospital billing process. We also remind our staff of the old adage about catching more flies with honey than vinegar…an upbeat, positive payment advisor historically will collect more money than a negative one. Positive tone and attitude from the payment advisor is typically reciprocated by the consumer resulting in more successful account resolutions. Positivity and negativity are both contagious affecting those around us, so by engaging the positive not only are you helping yourself collect more money but you are also helping the payment advisor sitting next to you. We also celebrate the small successes on our collection floor as equally as we do the big successes. We rejoice when a payment advisor gets a payment in full and revel when they get a $50 payment too. And finally, we routinely have contests for perfect attendance, most collections in a day, most collections in an hour, etc. The prize may be small like a $10 Starbucks gift card or it may be larger like a 42” HDTV. The end result is the same: an upbeat, positive atmosphere on the collection floor.
Engaging the positive is not always easy, but it is critical to success in the challenging environment of healthcare collections.
Eric M. Damewood
Executive Vice President