Health First is Central Florida's only fully integrated health system. Health First offers the latest technological advances and quality care at its four hospitals and outpatient and wellness service centers, as well as the area's only trauma and heart centers. The system offers multiple commercial and Medicare health plans, the largest multi-specialty physician group in Brevard County, and four fitness centers. Health First Cape Canaveral Hospital and Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center hold The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center Certification.
Decreased staffing, increased self-pay volume, and higher co-pays and deductibles made it increasingly difficult for Health First’s central business office to actively pursue and collect on self-pay patients. Employees were stretched thin, making it harder to provide quality customer service. The central business office also lacked the necessary equipment, such as predictive dialer, to service its large account volume. Outsourcing was the only viable option to both increase revenue and enable Health First to provide the level of service customers deserved.
A Vizient-contracted supplier, HBCS, immediately stood out from the competition. With a proven track record of collecting more than $1 billion annually for its health care clients, HBCS also offered extremely competitive fees and services. Administrators were further impressed by the HBCS customer service facilities that they visited in person. The top value-add? HBCS was willing to place a full-time, on-site employee at Health First’s central business office to assist HBCS off-site staff, handle call center issues or patients that might visit the business office, and work collaboratively with Health First’s office staff. Health First implemented the HBCS Self-Pay Customer Service solution in March 2014.
The solution includes:
- Providing comprehensive customer service (answering questions, resolving potential complaints, etc.) • Generating cost-effective, patient friendly billing statements
- Making outbound calls to self-pay patients to assist them in resolving outstanding balances • Helping patients set up payment arrangements
- Working with patients to discover any insurance coverage that was unidentified at the point of discharge and assist them further if necessary
- Sourcing additional financial assistance or identification of charity • Following up on uninsured and residual business
Shaun Ronan, Health First’s vice president, revenue operations, admits some skepticism about turning over self-pay and customer service to an outside vendor. “We were nervous at first because we’re a smaller community and patients are used to a certain way of things being done,” he said. “On the other hand, our approach was more reactive to patients calling us than being proactive and reaching out to them, and that needed to change. “HBCS has improved all of that and I’ll be honest — any time you enter into a self-pay, early-out program, you expect patient complaints,” Ronan continues. “The fact that as a vice president, I don’t hear complaints from administration, and I hear very few patient complaints, is testimony to how well HBCS is performing its duties. They’ve become an extension of our business office.” Like any new set-up, there were a few bumps in the road early on. But seeing how professionally HBCS reacted proved that Health First chose the right vendor. “HBCS acted quickly to address our issues, and our communication with them is exceptional,” said Ronan. “Their staff is very organized, they understand that side of the business, and they’re adaptable to our needs.” Within 90 days of implementation Health First recognized a $250,000 increase per month in self-pay cash collections, resulting in a total financial benefit of $750,000 in the first quarter of implementation. Even more impressive? HBCS is capturing more revenue on less volume. “Our actual self-pay volume has decreased by 12 percent, yet our self-pay collections have increased by 35 percent,” said Ronan. “HBCS has proactively captured money at a better rate than we were able to on fewer self-pay patients. “HBCS performs true customer service, and they deal with anything the patient presents, Ronan continued. “They free up our staff to perform other duties like pursuing insurance collections that we know we can get paid on rather than chasing after the smaller dollar self-pay.”
HBCS increased patient satisfaction, reduced time from call to pick-up, addressed issues faster, and decreased disconnects. Health First employees are also happier and more satisfied. “The HBCS organization is very in-tune and adaptive to our specific needs and any changes we want to make,” said Ronan. “They take an active role in maintaining communication with us on a regular basis, and the appropriate HBCS staff is present on those calls. It’s just been a great experience for us all around.” Would Ronan recommend HBCS to a colleague? “I would, and in fact I just did,” he says, adding that he spoke with a friend at a recent industry meeting. “He wanted the quality of customer service that they offer, and I told him I have nothing but the highest praise for HBCS. I would recommend them highly to anybody.”