Patient payments (deductibles, self-pay) and collections are among the crucial factors that affect revenue in your practice. Revenue cycle professionals and medical billing outsourcing companies provide great assistance for hospitals to manage their revenue cycle, thus achieving multiple positive results. The large portion of accounts receivable for most practices includes balances, deductibles and co-pays owed by patients for whom hospitals never filed insurance, as they opted to pay out of pocket. An ACI Worldwide survey recently suggested that many revenue cycle professionals representing hospitals should improve the speed of patient collections.
The survey that involved 112 professionals was conducted at the Becker’s Hospital Review 3rd Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle conference that was held in Chicago during September 21-23, 2017. This is an exclusive conference that brings together hospital and health system Chief Information Officers, IT Executives, and Revenue Cycle leaders to discuss the role of the CIO, data analytics, mobile health, EMR issues, denials and revenue cycle challenges and trends.
Key findings of the survey are:
- 63% respondents said their organization collects from patients at a “snail” speed
- Only 37% said their organization collects at a “cheetah” speed
- 89% hospitals reported they are unhappy with the speed of their patient collections
Problems Related to Speeding Up Patient Collections
- 87% of hospitals cited “collecting copay before appointment” and “engaging patients after appointment” as problems.
- 86% cited “measuring success of different strategies”
- 85% cited “knowing how much patients can pay”
- 76% said “simplifying bills” was a problem
Solutions Suggested by Revenue Cycle Professionals
- 61% revenue cycle professionals would like to “tell patients amount due before appointments”
- 55% would like to “communicate with patients how they want”
- 52% likes to “receive more data on patient likelihood to pay”
- 47% “speak to patients differently based on their finances”
- 42% likes to “offer customized payment plans”
Dramatic Improvement in Collections – Real Life Experience from Health Services Authority
Cayman News Service recently reported that Health Services Authority (HSA) CEO Lizette Yearwood informed the Public Accounts Committee about the dramatic improvement in their patient collections this year. HSA is the primary provider of healthcare services in the Cayman Islands. Ms. Yearwood said that HSA has already collected $14 million in fees for this October month, which is double the amount compared to a previous month’s average of around $6 million.
Now most hospitals are relying on experienced AR management consultants to speed up patient collections. HSA has also faced several issues regarding the employment of Deloitte as consultants to assist with the hospital’s financial challenges, for which they provided explanation to PAC. She had discussed with PAC about the tremendous amount of work their team has done to drastically increase collections.
Now, the hospital’s bad debt was being tackled and the year-to-year debt comparison was also dropping significantly. Based on the recommendations of the Office of the Auditor General, the consultants implemented certain controls, thus yielding very positive results. Along with the process controls and improved management, a different approach followed by the hospital is that except for emergencies, they are asking how people will pay before they are treated, and they also introduced the threat of court action for non-payment, resulting in the debt coming down and not increasing.
The management team is also confident enough that by the end of 2018 the hospital would get a clean opinion on its financial report for the first time in its history.