When interviewing collection agencies, it’s important to remember that one size does not fit all. This is especially true when considering different industries. Many agencies specialize in a specific vertical, and this should have a huge impact on your selection process. When it comes to the medical industry, in particular, a collection agency will need to understand everything from state and federal laws to insurance and privacy rights.

If the agency does not have experience with the various facets of the medical industry, then you could have issues with compliance, ultimately making that agency a bad fit. To help you make the best possible decision, here are a few questions you’ll want to ask during the interview process.

Question 1: Do you belong to any industry associations?

Answer: Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACA)

Question 2: Do you have an online portal for my patients?

Answer: Most patients expect a modern, user-friendly way to engage with a collection agency. Without an online portal, the payment and communication process will be more difficult and less seamless. If the agency says they do have an online portal, ask them to walk you through the online payment and communication process.

Question 3: Do your collectors have a script for engaging with patients?

Answer: A high-quality script will ensure a high-quality engagement. Without a script, you’re leaving the engagement up to chance and circumstance (which is less than ideal). Make sure you request a copy of the agency’s script (if they have one), so you can confirm that it falls in line with your service standards. 

Question 4: Are you an Accredited Business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

Answer: Reviews can tell you a lot about any business — collection agencies, too. Don’t forget to go over those reviews prior to selecting an agency. These ratings will provide you with insight into whether or not the collection agency responds to patient complaints in a timely manner.

Question 5: What areas do you service?

Answer: Does the agency have experience with your particular demographic? The answer to this question could be a make-it-or-break-it scenario. For example, your facility might cater to a heavy population of non-English speakers. You’ll want to make sure that the agency has the ability to support your patients’ communication needs.

Question 6: Do you have the appropriate collection license to service my company’s needs?

Answer: Depending on the state or city you’re located in, a license to perform debt collections may be required. Make sure to ask any collection agency you interview about their licenses and then cross-reference any information you receive between all of the agencies you speak with.

Question 7: Do you have adequate insurance coverage?

Answer: You’ll want to confirm with your attorney or compliance department that the type and amount of coverage offered is adequate for your needs.

Question 8: Do you have a client-facing portal?

Answer: Aside from having a patient portal, a client portal is important, too. The client-facing portal should give you the opportunity to check the status of patient accounts, enter new placements, and even place accounts on hold. Not only is a client-facing portal convenient, but it can reduce compliance concerns, as well as human error.

Question 9: Is there a minimum placement amount and volume?

Answer: You should compare the answer to this question with your aging report and your company’s unique needs.

Question 10: Is a long-term contract required?

Answer: Some collection agencies require a long-term contract. Depending on your particular situation and ongoing needs, this may not be a good fit for your business. 

Bonus Question: Do you charge a fee to place accounts in collections?

Answer: Charging a fee or paying for a letter series may not save you as much as you think. Ask about their average success rate and compare that with quotes you received from commission-only collection agencies (or options). You may discover that it’s more cost-effective to use the commission-only model.

Looking for a collection agency in California?

HP Sears is a collection agency based in California, specializing in healthcare, retail, finance, and commercial industries. Offering late-state collections, contingency-based collections, and early intervention collections, HP Sears has a solution to fit your needs. Call (888) 766-5981 today to get in contact with a representative.