Team-Tested Practices

Co-Pays: Make Collections Easier, Just Ask

Turning Copay Collections Into a Team Effort

Southern California admitting team becomes one of the highest copay collectors in the region

When the Anaheim Medical Center Admitting department unit-based team set out to increase its collection of inpatient hospital copayments, it had several hurdles to overcome.

Some staff members had to get comfortable with asking for money from patients. Others had to learn how to calculate copayments. They also needed to notify Admitting of a patient’s pending discharge so copayments could be collected at the point of service.

And since the team goal of collecting copayments didn’t always dovetail nicely with individualized goals, that put some staff members at odds.

“We had created this unhealthy competition,” admitting supervisor/manager and union co-lead David Jarvis says.

They also had the problem of convincing staff members in other departments that collecting copayments from hospitalized patients was not a bad thing.

"They used to think of me as Public Enemy No. 1," says Patti Hinds, a financial counselor and member of SEIU UHW.

To educate and motivate staff members about the importance of collecting copayments, the unit-based team held a kickoff meeting in January 2010.

Staff members who were good at collecting and calculating copayments were deemed “master users” and received training so they could help their peers learn to correctly calculate amounts due. They also got pointers on speaking with patients about the money they owed.

"We wrote scripts, we role-played and, as people did it more, they became more comfortable with asking for money and with knowing when it is appropriate to do so," admitting clerk, SEIU UHW Patricia Hartwig says.

The team also had to teach staff members in other departments about the benefits of copayment collection.

"We showed them the bottom-line connection between revenue collection and their paychecks," Hartwig says.

Better working relationships developed between admitting department staff and the nursing units, prompting nurses to contact admitting staff more consistently before patients are discharged.

"They came to realize we’re not the 'bad guys,' " says financial counselor Marcela Perez, an SEIU-UHW member.

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