Collecting on accounts is only one side of the healthcare accounts receivable coin. The other is fine tuning the software involved to make sure it is conducive to your operation’s processes, compliance requirements and clients. Receivables Advisor spoke with technology experts Brett Adams, Network Administrator for Alliance Collection Service and John Brown, Co-Founder, CFO and CTO of Creditor Advocates to discuss what they do to calibrate their tools to meet their accounts receivable needs.
What is a helpful tip about using technology to make maintaining HIPAA compliance easier?
Adams: Have your network as secure as possible, and have a plan in place for any sort of breach. Protecting PHI [protected health information] is first and foremost the number one goal, but you have to know what to do if a breach does occur. Build to be impenetrable, but realize every armor has chinks in it. The beefiest domain controller with the highest level of proxy can be figured out by the right person or team of people. Just be prepared if it ever does happen. We have to know the laws and the safeguards, and be ready to notify the consumer of any mishaps.
Brown: With our data it’s access control. Your system has to have the ability to restrict information based on the user’s role and responsibilities. This not only includes the users within your office but also users you might have at your client’s location or vendors.
On top of that you have to have audit controls in place to track information flows and ensure information integrity. We also use a lot of this same information during key aspects of periodic risk assessment reviews.
We do use a bit of technology on our training as far as tests, videos and a web course. We find it’s easier if you use a couple different techniques throughout the training. It increases their retention of information and, if implemented correctly, can also decrease your cost. We also use ACA [International]’s training product. They have a web course for HIPAA compliance.
What specific training do you recommend for A/R professionals using healthcare collection software/ technology?
Adams: Again, know what to do. Mistakes happen. We are human. No technology can prevent everything. Someone coded it so someone else can absolutely decode it. In the modern age of collections, most businesses rely on the software to handle most of the privacy laws, but if we ensure our employees are highly trained on what exactly is a breach in HIPAA, they are more likely to spot irregularities in information and not make mistakes themselves.
Brown: We mainly do a lot of classroom and one-on-one training.
Have you customized any of your software? If so, how?
Adams: Well, our collection software, specifically, is built on SQLs [structured query language]. We can run any report or build any list based on the basic language of the SQLs we put together. Our software essentially changes every day. I, admittedly, have a beef with how simple certain aspects of our software seems to me, but at the end of the day I realize just how flexible it really is, which is a good thing.
Brown: We use InterProse’s WebAR solution which my partner describes as kind of a box of Legos. You kind of build it yourself. They give you all the building blocks that go along with it. It pretty much has an endless number of ways we can customize forms, reporting, along with automation within their software.
We also have some automation software that we use internally. If there’s a task or a group of tasks that WebAR cannot do we use an internal automation software program to write custom scripts for us to accomplish what we’re trying to do.
What do you think has been one of the greatest recent advancements in healthcare collection technology?
Adams: Google has proven it time and time again. The more data you can collect, the more specific you can become. The better organized the data, the more personable you are, the greater chance you have of reaching your target. On the collections side of things, we strive for our account representatives to build a rapport with the consumer. How else do you do that except with information? Know who you’re talking to, and understand the situation. Having a giant vault of info requires more safeguards, but that also leads to better compliance, as well, because you have to be well organized. Long answer short, data collection.
Brown: When it comes to servicing healthcare accounts I think it’s probably more integration with our clients. It’s always a struggle getting information from clients because they’re busy and that kind of thing. We try to minimize our impact on their business office when they allow us access to their billing systems or work with their IT to integrate our systems. That allows us to have not only greater service to the healthcare providers themselves but also the patients that we service.
What improvement or enhancement would you like to see in healthcare collection technology?
Adams: Billing and coding systems in general. Miscoding and misinformation problems seem to be an issue, and lead to some of the biggest complaints, specifically insurance issues. I know we can streamline that process, but it would take all parties getting on board and coming to the table to make something happen. The technology is already out there.
Brown: We do have a pretty good ability for integration but I would always like to increase the integration of capabilities between our systems. Right now we use a combination of scripts. Every script with every one of our clients is custom made. Onboarding a new client can be kind of a challenge.
Also, having some sort of automated IVR or bot to handle some of those easy customer service calls. We have a bot that’s made with IBM technology but we may be switching over to Amazon’s system. They do have a pretty good system for handling those types of calls. If your system has the capability to export information on demand or through an API [application programming interface] that integrates directly into Amazon’s system then you could easily build a system that would handle those types of inbound-type calls, even outbound as well if you wanted to.