by Bird Blitch, CEO Patientco

patientco_blog_closed_signToday, Invacare announced that on August 30, it is closing the doors on Invacare HCS, a business unit providing billing services to HME providers.  This is big news, not only for their 300 clients who are now scrambling for a billing alternative, but also for the industry in general as it forces us all to take a good hard look at how we are working with our clients.  Everyone wants to provide exceptional solutions to help HMEs run their businesses better and, of course, collect more from their patients.

Two questions immediately came to mind when I heard this news: What happened and how do their customers correctly solve the growing patient financial responsibility problem in this ever-changing environment?

What happened?

While no one knows for sure, it’s no secret to HMEs that Competitive Bidding isn’t helping the HME industry.  If you can only get paid 45% of what you formerly charged 100% for, that’s a major obstacle to overcome.  Double that pain if you are a Biller such as Invacare HCS:  When there’s less money to collect, and costs remain constant or increase, there is only one way you keep margins constant – you have to charge more.  Now back this “thinking” into the ever changing world we live in: If HME providers make less because of Competitive Bidding, then a Biller charging more just wouldn’t work.  Therefore, instead of changing with the times, Invacare probably saw a good opportunity to transition this portion of their business so they could focus on other products and services.

So, how do Invacare HCS’s customers and other HMEs solve this patient pay problem which is the fastest growing part of the business?

The short answer is, you need a different partner.  One not only with a new pricing structure, but also a better way to solve the problem.  At Patientco, we often pride ourselves on “thinking differently”. Here are three rules we share with others in the HME industry to help them do this:

1)     Today, to remain compliant and efficient, you have to “think differently” and get paid upfront: start charging the patients’ copay onsite.  Gone are the days of only sending patients a bill 30 days after a visit, and then waiting another 60 days after they have opened that bill for the patient to pay or call with a question.  You need simple, intuitive tools to manage Patient Engagement so you can collect payments upfront, or even initiate a payment plan to automate the payments of rentals in a recurring fashion.  It sure will help you sleep better at night when much of this is automated and the process is easy. Your staff will thank you, too.

2)     Today, to save money, you have to “think differently” and pay your vendors differently: stop paying Billers for a percentage of what the patient pays.  It’s your money to start with, whatever contingency you pay the Agency is too much. Period.

3)     Today, to grow your business, you have to “think differently” and improve Patient satisfaction. One way to do this is by outsourcing differently: don’t immediately outsource collections to billers who don’t know (or care about) your customers.  Their primary focus is typically on insurance coding and payments and not on your Patient Pay.  Patients don’t like it when someone they don’t know calls and ask for money regarding a bill they don’t understand in the first place.  So that model really doesn’t work.

We spend a lot of time with our HME customers to help them “think differently”, which means get paid differently, pay vendors differently, and improve patient satisfaction differently. Most important, we have done significant amounts of research to understand patients and what makes them have an incredibly different billing experience.

While this news of Invacare HCS probably comes at a tough time for HMEs who have worked with them faithfully, the good news is that there are companies like Patientco that can deliver better results, give you more control and insight into patient preferences, and save you a lot of money in the process.  Your customers will appreciate a different approach to the patient financial experience and their satisfaction will tell you exactly how to survive in these challenging times.

If you would like to talk to us about how we can help you create a better patient financial experience for your business, we are here and happy to help in any way we can. Give us a call. 888-747-2455.