HME News

FEB 2018

HME News is the monthly business newspaper for home medical equipment providers. This controlled circulation publication reaches 17,100 home medical equipment services providers, including traditional HME dealers & suppliers, hospital- and pharmacy-o

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hme news / february 2018 / www.hmenews.com 7 By Bill Wil S on a LL e GA t I ons of sexual miscon- duct in the workplace dominated the headlines in 2017, resulting in t ime magazine choosing the #Me t oo movement as Person of the y ear for rais- ing awareness about sexual harassment and assault. n ow, more so than ever, it's imperative for businesses to adopt policies as a pro- active measure to protect their business from litigation brought on by employee harassment claims. Workplace harassment can come in a variety of forms and is one of the most difficult risks for an organization to con- trol. While harassment can be caused by managers or employees, either individu- ally or as a group, the goal of most harass- ment litigation is to blame the company for the actions of its employees. r egard- less of who is the harasser, the company can be implicated in an employee's law- suit; therefore, all harassment complaints must be taken very seriously and acted upon immediately by management. s exual harassment o ne of the most common forms of harassment that occurs in the workplace is sexual harassment, which can range from frequent, inappropriate and unwel- come sexual suggestions to coerced sex- ual relations to insulting or derogatory comments to physical assault. t here are many actions and behav- iors that leave no doubt that harassment has occurred. But where behavior is not so blatant, the question of defining how a reasonable person would interpret the behavior becomes very important. t he perception of the alleged harasser that there was no intent to offend anoth- er person does n o t l e g i t i m i z e t h a t p e r s o n 's b e h a v i o r. L a c k o f i n t e n t i s n o t a d e f e n s e t o a c l a i m o f harassment. C o m p a n i e s should have in p l a c e p o l i c i e s outlining work- place conduct, and it is the company's legal duty to communicate those poli- cies and ensure all employees understand and adhere to them. e mployer's should establish reporting procedures that include at least two channels through which employees can report harassment for situations in which one of the chan- nels is compromised or is involved in the harassment. Another proactive step to help prevent harassment litigation includes imple- menting a workplace harassment edu- cation program where all employees— from the C eo on down—are required to attend and sign not only proof of partici- pation but also an agreement of under- standing and willingness to comply with company standards. t he education pro- gram should be an annual requirement for employment, and can demonstrate to a court that the company makes a con- certed effort to prevent harassment in the workplace. Protected attributes Discrimination on the part of the employ- er against an employee or prospective employee because of a protected attri- bute is another form of harassment that can occur in the workplace. Protected attributes include but are not limited to the following: race, sex, sexual orienta- tion, age, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, religion or political opinion. Company supervisors, as well as compa- ny policy handbooks, are considered rep- resentatives of a company and its culture. If, for example, an employee is ignored, punished or fired because of a protected attribute, it could result in that employee bringing a lawsuit against the company. t o minimize the risk, make sure your written policies are unbiased and that you place trustworthy individuals in managerial and supervisory positions. d ocumentation As the saying goes, "If it isn't document- ed, it didn't happen." In other words, regardless of what actions a manager or an H r department takes following a harassment claim, it's of little conse- quence if not appropriately documented. If a lawsuit is brought against a com- pany, the company will need to provide proof of the facts in the form of docu- mentation. t he company needs to offer proof that its management staff took the proper steps to avoid problems, to edu- cate employees about their rights, and that when the issue took place, respond- ed quickly and appropriately. i nsurance considerations It's important to note most general lia- bility policies do not cover employment practice-related claims; therefore, it is essential for organizations to consider an e mployment Practice Liability ( e PL) policy to protect from lawsuits brought by employees, directors and officers, vol- unteers, and even third parties. According to t rusted Choice, the aver- age court costs and legal fees when set- tled out of court can be up to $50,000, but when these lawsuits go to trial, these costs skyrocket to more than $200,000. Having a properly written e PL policy will protect your company, along with a defense counsel specializing in employment practice law. t oday's work environment can be unpredictable. Proactive HM e providers can reduce their level of risk when all employees receive regular training and fully understand the company's policies regarding harassment and employee rights, properly document any incidents and handle them accordingly, as well as provide an additional layer of protection with the proper insurance coverage. H me Bill Wilson is vice president of sales and mar- keting for VGM Insurance. Reach him at 800- 205-0091 or bill.wilson@vgm.com. By Bruce Gehrin G a re you struggling trying to collect your private pay balances? If so, you are not alone. o ut- standing private pay balances can create problems for business small and large. y our staff gets too busy to mail state- ments or make collection calls. And in the back of your mind you know the lon- ger a balance goes unpaid, the harder it will be to collect. Where can you turn for help? A billing and collection partner can help you get your statements mailed on time and can generate several touches to remind your client of their outstanding private pay balance, which results in you collecting more cash faster, and using fewer resources from your office. Here are the five areas you should con- sider when selecting a partner: e x P erience Make certain the company is experienced in collecting outstanding balances in the HM e industry and can show results. Philoso P hy t he growth of your business depends on repeat customers. Any partner is an extension of your reputation, so make certain your clients will be treated with respect. t he biggest tools that billing and collection companies use to reach out to your clients are invoices and phone calls. Ask for a copy of their invoice and phone scripts. As you review them, ask yourself the following questions: Are the invoices clear and easy to understand? Are they printed in color? Do they send out paper statements? e lectronic? Both? Can you easily access a copy of the statement? Will your clients receive a recorded mes- sage, or talk to a representative? Do you like the tone of voice they will use with your clients? Can they take payments over the phone or online? Do they direct your clients to your website to make pay- ments? Can you access a recording of the call if your client has a question? Do the telephone representatives receive ongo- ing training? n ote: t he company's time- line should flexible to meet the needs of your business. s ervices/integration Integrations streamline the flow of data so your client services team will have current information to better serve your patient. Is their billing system integrat- ed with your insurance processing soft- ware? Do they use an application pro- gram interface (API)? Ask how it works, i.e., "How often are payments/charges posted?" Can the company secure- ly store the credit card and bank- ing information you collect at the time of service? Do they offer a payment portal with your look and feel? What reporting is avail- able to track their performance? f ees When you compare costs, here's what to expect: f or accounts less than 90 days old, a flat fee per piece to cover print- ing, supplies and mailing costs. f or accounts 90 to 360 days old, a percent- age (10%-30%) of the collected amount. f or accounts more than 360 days old, contingency fees can range from 25%- 50% and are based on factors such as how many times the client has been contacted, the age of the outstanding balance, etc. r eferences t ake the time to check the company's ref- erences. t he comments will probably be positive, but you can still find out how a vendor will work with you by asking the right questions: Does the company respond to your calls and emails in a timely fashion? Has the company met their goals or service level agreements? Can you track the collection results through adhoc reports, or do you have to wait for them to send you a report? Have you had a client issue with the company? If so, was it resolved to your satisfaction? take the time t here are a number of benefits of hir- ing a billing and collections partner: y ou can stay focused on your business. y ou can apply your billing guidelines auto- matically. y our business can improve its cashflow. y our staff can spend time on activities to increase the bottom line. y our patients enjoy a variety of payment options with a payment portal. H me Bruce Gehring is senior vice president, busi- ness development, for Allegiance Group. Reach him at bgehring@allegiance-group.com or 913-338-4790, x202. c ommentary Harassment: What can you do to minimize risk? Choose your private pay billing partner wisely b ill wil S on bruce ge H ring According to Trusted Choice, the average court costs and legal fees when settled out of court can be up to $50,000, but when these lawsuits go to trial, these costs skyrocket to more than $200,000. Having a properly written EPL policy will protect your company, along with a defense counsel specializing in employment practice law

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