DSC Tech Library
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to Predictive Dialers and Auto Dialer software and products.
The PACER and Wizard phone systems are PC based call center phone systems that are recognized as premier inbound and outbound computer telephony systems. Features such as automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR) and call recording have added a new dimension to the predictive dialer and auto dialer capabilities of these systems. These computer based dialing systems can perform various types of auto dialing campaigns simultaneously. These types include Predictive Dialing, Progressive Dialing, Preview Dialing and Dial on Demand.
Predictive autodialers enhance self-pay collections - Patient Accounts Management
Healthcare Financial Management, June, 1992
by H. Michael Flasch, Michael A. Marulli
As patient accounts managers continue to develop strategies to achieve downward trends in accounts receivable and days outstanding, many are finding they need to concentrate on an aspect of receivables management that is becoming more important while becoming problematic--self-pay account management and collection techniques.
At Henry Ford Hospital and Medical Group, significant emphasis has been placed on the collection of personal balance accounts. As a major tertiary care center in Detroit, Mich., Henry Ford Hospital and Medical Group has in excess of 37,000 admissions annually. The organization's main source of revenue comes from 75 outpatient specialty centers--40 centers located on the urban hospital's campus, as well as 35 full-service ambulatory care centers strategically located throughout Detroit.
Because outpatient visits at Henry Ford Hospital and Medical Group total over two million annually, the continued development of cash collection strategies to minimize bad debt write-offs is essential. Programs developed to achieve this goal place a great deal of emphasis on patient contacts, communication regarding personal balance amounts, and past-due patient liabilities. One of the programs developed included development of a small-balance collection staff to provide account follow-up, including the review of payment arrangement contracts for adherence as well as skip-tracing support on bad address accounts.
The small-balance follow-up program has received high priority status. Through it, the need for automation to facilitate the processing of delinquent accounts was recognized. This need is primarily due to the large volume of small-balance accounts incurred by a system that generates two million outpatient visits per year. Because of this need, the decision to use a predictive autodialer was made.
Predictive autodialer systems like the one used at Henry Ford maximize the talk time of collectors by connecting them with live voices only. A predictive autodialer sends out phone calls on more lines than there are collectors. After dialing the number, the system listens and differentiates between busy signals, no answers, telephone company intercept messages, answering machine messages, and actual live responses. It then routes to collectors only the calls that get through to an individual.
The term "predictive" comes from the concept of call pacing. Automatic call-pacing features keep track of the call length of each individual collector, and use this information to predict the collector's demand for connected calls throughout each calling session. Other automated features monitor the "hit rate" of connected calls to busy signals, no answers, etc. At Henry Ford, the result has been more than a 200 percent increase in productivity for collectors, allowing the collectors to spend the majority of a standard work hour talking with patients instead of wasting time with busy signals, no answers, answering machines, etc.
Autodialer services can be leased from external contractors. The decision at Henry Ford to purchase and own a predictive autodialer system was based on account volumes, cost analysis, and projected cash returns. The predictive autodialer was installed within Henry Ford's collection division primarily for the purpose of reaching small-balance accounts that either did not fall under the review criteria of the large-balance, in-house collection staff, or would have systematically been referred to an external collection agency. Initially, Henry Ford installed five small-balance predictive autodialer stations using eight outbound telephone lines. Due to the significant increase in both patient contacts and subsequent cash payments, the system has been upgraded to 10 predictive autodialer stations with 16 outbound lines.
The operation of the predictive autodialer system at Henry Ford is easily controlled from a single supervisor station, which acts as a control center for account downloading, account purge, system speed, and operator assistance. All system reports are accessed via this control center. Operator terminals are IBM PS/2s which, when activated on the autodialer system, also can provide quick access via a "hot-key" to the hospital-based online billing system to obtain detailed account information. When autodialer systems are not activated, operator terminals can be linked into mainframe systems for stand-alone, online account management support.
In considering a predictive autodialer system, patient account managers must realize that organizational structures may have to be modified to maximize the outbound call capabilities of the system. Efforts must be made to avoid placing operators in the position of becoming involved in detailed discussion with debtors about account discrepancies (e.g., third-party responsibilities, explanation of services/ charges, preparation of itemized statements). Support systems should be established to allow debtors to discuss such details with account representatives who are offline to the autodialer system. Depending on hours of operation, either a call transfer system can be provided or the debtor can be asked to phone an account representative the following day to discuss unresolved third-party liability matters. After all, if an autodialed call is placed, it already signifies that the account is in a delinquency state. The call gets the debtor's attention, which most likely result in a follow-up contact to resolve disputed matters.
The predictive autodialer system at Henry Ford uses a split shift staff from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with daytime shifts operating on Friday and Saturday. With daily account down-loads averaging 2,000 accounts, total daily account contacts range from 1,400 to 1,600, with an average operator contact per hour of 30. In an effort to monitor expected debtor action from an autodialed contact, four action codes have been developed and programmed so that operators can use them to categorize a call after termination based on debtor response. The action codes programmed are:
From these categories, called "leads," a detailed report is generated at the end of each calling session. It is used for designated account follow-up.
- Debtor promised to pay.
- Debtor told to call customer service.
- Debtor refused to pay.
- Refer account to agency.
- Bad phone number; requires skip-tracing.
If a hospital is considering the purchase of a predictive autodialer system, some basic factors should be considered in the decision-making process. First, does the volume of business generated by the healthcare facility support the purchase of such a system? Does the philosophy of the organization support an aggressive cash collection policy, particularly via a fast-paced predictive autodialer system that has the potential to jeopardize patient sensitivities with regard to account collection techniques? On this same note, is the process of playing pre-recorded messages to patients regarding account delinquency supported by administration? Are staff members designated for autodialer assignments flexible enough to be able to adjust their work habits to an automated environment that is both high paced and stressful?
As the healthcare industry heads further into the 1990s, continued pressure will be placed on chief financial officers and patient account managers to provide financial stability and improved profit margins. At Henry Ford, the predictive autodialer system has enhanced the institution's financial position.
[H. Michael Flasch, president, HFMA Eastern Michigan Chapter, is associate controller of patient financial services for Henry Ford Health System, operating throughout south-eastern Michigan; Michael A. Marulli is director of patient financial services with the same organization.]
Predictive Dialer Software and Call Center Predictive Dialers - Database Systems Corp. provides CRM call center software plus CTI phone systems, predictive dialers, IVR systems, ACD systems, Voice Broadcasting systems.