Turning Red to Black Blog

Turning Red to Black Blog

Turning Red to Black Blog: Discussing Topics Related to Revenue Cycle Management, Debt Collection, Debt Recovery, Debt Management, Billing Operations and Billing Procedures

A Revenue Cycle Professional’s Christmas Wish List


Throughout the course of the last year we have outlined many topics in our blogs that help achieve a high level of recovery of outstanding patient debt. This work is performed across billing departments, early-out self-pay philosophies and third-party debt collectors – all of which rely on different levels of tools and similar techniques. Grouping these specialists into a single bucket of professionals, we paint a broad picture of what the amalgamated “Revenue Cycle Professional’s” Christmas list looks like.

Information: “On the first day of Christmas, I really want to see…the information needed for effective recovery.” Holiday tunes aside, an effective debt recovery starts with the information you collect from your patients and how frequently you verify this information with them. Effective recovery is achieved when address, phone number, place of employment and other identifying information is accurate and up-to-date.  This information will not only help your team to find and contact your patients but is critical to the success your third-party agency will have with your accounts.  For a list of 12 crucial pieces of information (one for each of the 12 days of Christmas!) take a look at our article, “Setting the Table for Effective Recovery.”

Security: Collecting information is only one side of the coin. Once it’s collected you need to be sure that your organization secures that information in order to protect your patients from HIPAA violations as well as credit and identity fraud. 2016 was a record year for data breaches, so securing your patient information is critical and will be in the years to come. Another significant exposure area is when transferring your patient information to outside agencies. Always review this process with your IT and security teams to ensure that files are transferred across secure gateways and are maintained and stored in a secure environment. Be sure that every third-party firm you work with strives to handle your confidential data as securely as you do. For a list of three important questions your CIO will ask about your chosen collection agency, check out our article, “Convincing Your CIO That It’s Time to Use a Collection Agency.”

Accounts Receivable Plan: When patients do not pay and your earliest attempts to collect the debt are not met, how much investment and work is your organization willing to devote in your pre-collect efforts? In order to answer this consistently, formulate an accounts receivable plan that details how many statements you send, how many phone calls you make and at what point the plan triggers further action or a protocol to stop your recovery efforts and place the account with your collection agency. Put this plan into action immediately and make sure your staff knows about it. While we encourage our clients to take their very best swing at collecting on their delinquent accounts, we also realize there is only so much they can do before they are out of tools. So why not take your swing but then get those over to your agency sooner rather than later to allow for the best possible results. You should always let your customers know when and why they need to deal with your collection agency.  By doing so, your patients and customers are less likely to be ‘frequent flyers’ because they will realize once it is placed for collection – it stays with the collection agency until it is paid in full. Check out the four questions your accounts receivable plan should answer in our article, “Creating a Successful Accounts Receivable Plan for Your Organization.”

Negotiators: First and foremost an agency should have exceptional negotiators working your accounts. While this may seem obvious, placing a high number of skilled negotiators on the floor is a painstaking process that includes everyone at the agency – from top management to collections managers and trainers. This starts with your highest level C-Suite members who should have relevant experience in corporate management or revenue cycle management. Oftentimes, for the most successful agencies, they have “worked the phones” themselves and possess firsthand experience in negotiating with debtors. Understanding the mechanics of negotiations, as well as the delicate balance of emotional response, is critical to this process, and if this starts at the top, it is extremely helpful to obtaining a high level of commitment throughout the entire organization. In this new age of collections, the “fist-pounding” ethos of decades past is no longer appropriate, and frankly any agency worth their salt knows it is also not effective. So working with former collectors who are already ingrained in this type of methodology is ineffective as well. It’s much better to start with customer service and sales representatives and train them in the skill of negotiation. The actual collections team and call center representatives should also be a diverse group that is broken into specialized areas by their skillsets. An agency should be capable of multi-lingual and multi-cultural communication. While collections experience is certainly valuable, where and when that experience was developed is equally important. Negotiations have changed over the years as have the demographics in which they work. Don’t be fooled by the importance of developing exceptional negotiating skills. Minimizing this part of the collections toolbox is detrimental to your success in collecting the delinquent debt that is owed to you. For more information on what goes into choosing the right agency, download our free eBook: “The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Collection Agency.”

Technology: The tools of the trade will vary widely between a billing department and a specialized debt collection firm. While a department’s tools will be limited, any third-party agency that’s setup for success will embrace cloud technology, predictive dialing, analytical processing, consumer credit reporting and scoring analysis. This technology should also help your organization integrate with the agency, making sure that placements are seamless and secure and that you have visibility to your accounts through accurate and timely reporting (see “Transparency” below). Take a look at seven points that should help you make an informed decision in our article, “Choosing the Best Collection Agency You Possibly Can: Understanding Technology and Information Capabilities of a Debt Collection Firm.”

Transparency: Once your accounts have been placed with the agency, it’s important to have access to a dedicated Client Services team, especially when you first start working with an agency and need help understanding their processes and how they relate to your own. Ease of integrating your data into theirs as well as understanding how they report their success back to you is critical and having a client liaison can make the difference between sinking or swimming with regard to the success they can deliver. Understanding exactly when and how your accounts will be worked and when the agency will remit payments will allow you to have a clear sense of what you can expect from your chosen agency. This should be clearly outlined and the agency should meet this level of service and provide the transparency needed to prove it. Paramount to your own success you should have access to your accounts in a secure online portal that can be viewed no less than 24/7 with minimal effort on your part besides any initial learning curve, which should be reinforced by their Client Services team. To learn more about what happens once your accounts have been placed, here are “8 Things to Expect from the Best and Most Reputable Agencies.”

Stocking Suffer: Finally, in the spirit of giving, here’s one more article that can help you prepare your accounts for maximum collection returns: “Top Five Things Every Revenue Cycle Manager Should do to Maximize Their Collection Returns.”


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Simon’s utilizes an advanced information system and employs a fully trained and experienced staff of collectors operating in a state-of-the-art call center. But there is much more that goes into our collection philosophy.


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