Let’s start with a cold, hard fact: While negotiating a contract with a payer rep might be your #1 priority, you probably aren’t going to register on their top 5 list for the day.
They are juggling internal company assignments, working on contracts with other practices, dealing with member (patient) concerns, training on new rules and regulations in the healthcare industry, and balancing family and life outside work.
Can you see why good follow up is important during contract negotiations?
By being pleasantly persistent, you can be a little tap on their shoulder that says, “Remember, you need to respond to this.”
Here are 5 tips to perfect your follow up during payer negotiations:
- Be realistic about timelines: Don’t expect a full response within a day, a week or even a month (sometimes). The health insurance industry does not move rapidly. When you send a document for review and response, allow your recipient a reasonable amount of time before you start follow-up efforts. You can even ask your contact for a process timeline to give you some insight.
- Set your follow-up date in your communication: Once you know the reasonable amount of time for a response, set your follow-up date in your email, letter or voicemail. It can be as simple as this phrase: “If I don’t hear back from you by MONTH DAY, I will follow up with you about the next step.”
- Stick to it: Actually follow up when you say you will. Yes, it seems obvious, but we have a tendency to let things slide. Does this sound familiar: “Oh, I’ll just give them another week to respond.” That kind of thinking is a trap — we keep putting it off, and soon months have passed.
- Set reminders: Whether your calendar is digital or paper-based, put that follow-up reminder on it as soon as you communicate it to your payer rep.
- Try multiple modes of communication: When you follow up, use both an email and phone call. (This is also why it’s important to get the full contact information of your payer rep when you begin the negotiation process). And reference one message in the other. For example, if you leave a voicemail, say, “I’m also sending you an email with this information.” And when you send your email, write, “Per the voicemail I left …”
There you have it — our top 5 tips. Want more advice? Download our free white paper with tips on analyzing your contracts and reimbursements.