- Providers are increasingly turning to payment technologies to collect patient bills and improve the customer experience, a new Billing Tree survey finds.
- Respondents ranked “collecting once the patient has left the facility” as the No. 1 payment challenge in 2018, followed by “patient’s inability to pay” and “lack of payment channels.” Rounding out the top six were “disputes over amount billed,” “knowing the correct amount to bill/due after insurance” and “compliance challenges.” The least important challenge was “posting to the database.”
- The top two factors affecting choice of payment processing services were HIPAA compliance and the price of payment processing. Half of the respondents were collection firms, one-fifth were long-term care facilities and the rest were multi- and single-site businesses.
Efforts to boost hospital finances are fueling activity in revenue cycle management as more providers look for ways to work with patients on payment plans. According to a Connance survey, 70% of providers claim it takes more than a month to collect from patients. A 2017 Advisory Board analysis found the average 350-bed hospital lost up to $22 million in revenue due to revenue cycle issues.
The major EHR vendors, as well as other third-party players, are investing in RCM solutions as demand for services increases. In an earnings call earlier this year, Cerner officials highlighted RCM as a good growth opportunity, along with population health. Allscripts CEO Paul Black has also touted strong sales of RCM products.
The trend is also spurring consolidation as vendors vie for market share. In February, Chicago-based R1 RCM snapped up Intermedix’s healthcare division, which includes physician and emergency services RCM, practice management and analytics. The acquisition increased R1’s capability to integrate revenue cycles across care settings, the company said at the time, citing Intermedix’s more than 15,000 providers nationwide.
Survey respondents showed a willingness to accept a wide range of payment types. More than nine in 10 accepted health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, 82% accepted paper checks or money orders and about 73% accepted credit/debit payments and electronic checks.
The survey also shows growing use of automation, with nearly two-thirds reporting acceptance of web portal payments. In addition, 27% offered payment by an interactive voice response system and the same percentage offered payment by text.
Asked what payment technology they would most likely add in the next 12 months, more than half (54.5%) said web payments. Not surprising given the growth in text payments, more than a quarter planned to deploy text notifications for payments and billing notifications.
“Technology service providers continue to play a critical role in helping organizations of all kinds that are striving to collect payments in a timely and efficient manner to maximize revenues, control operational costs, while also mitigating compliance risk,” Billing Tree says. “Beyond simply processing transactions, industry-leading payment processors partner strategically with their clients to provide education and guidance on best practices to maintain regulatory compliance.”
Technology advancements continue to drive major change in healthcare. Yet, for all the EHR and computer-based solutions available, paperwork is still an unavoidable and time-consuming part of many practices.
A recent study found that doctors are spending as much as one-sixth of their day on non-patient related paperwork. Psychiatrists and internists have the biggest burden, but all practices have forms to sign and administrative as well as clinical areas to deal with on a daily basis.
Paperwork Leads to Burnout
Many practices have yet to take advantage of re-creating forms within their EHR or other technology offerings. They still spend time first writing down information in paper format, then staff time translating that content into their EHR. Another paperwork burden comes with labs and other vendors, who often send patient results back to practices in paper formats.
This manual data entry from staff often leads to errors in addition to eating up valuable time. One way to get this time back is investing in interfaces or integrations that transfer data seamlessly between systems. Instead of requiring labs to send data in paper these custom connections move data right into the patient chart – cutting out the entire manual process.
Workflows May Need Improvement
Without relying on administrative staff to help completed required documents, it can be tough to get everything done in a timely manner. While some regulations require the physician to be the one completing a task, such as entering orders, there is room to optimize workflows or reduce duplication of efforts to streamline these tasks.
Knowing when to delegate and how to do so efficiently can help your practice reduce the time spent on paperwork overall by sharing these time-consuming tasks.
For many practices, looking to outside consulting can help identify areas that are missing the mark. An outside perspective may reveal ways to adjust processes that have been ingrained in your practice, or attending physician panels may help in comparing notes and discussing your common concerns with your peers.
Billing is a Nightmare
When you fail to accurately capture patient information, that leads to reimbursement delays. Manual claims management processes are a huge administrative burden. This increases the time between when you help your patient and when you get receive compensation.
There is a lot of opportunity for automation when it comes to medical billing, and using an outside vendor can help to identify areas for improvement as well as share some of the manual tasks that would otherwise fall on your own staff. Using the right billing software can provide you insight on where your problems are, and help you overcome them. When you are dealing with pens and paper, you just have to guess.
DAS Health provides a wealth of practice management solutions including certified PM & EHR technology, consulting services and Revenue Cycle Management billing. We want to help make the administrative side of your practice a little bit easier for you. If we can help, reach out to us today.
GE Healthcare has sold a suite of IT tools that make up its value-based care division to private-equity firm Veritas Capital for $1.05 billion in cash.
The divestiture comes as GE is making an effort to slim down its offerings under new CEO John Flannery and refocus its work. Kieran Murphy, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, indicated the company would continue investing in “core digital solutions” including “smart diagnostics, AI and enterprise imaging.”
“We will continue to lead in data analytics, command centers, advanced visualization and image management tools to create better customer and patient outcomes,” Murphy said in a statement.
The company appears intent on creating a more stable foothold within the healthcare analytics industry. Last year, GE Healthcare inked a 10-year deal with Partners HealthCare to develop artificial intelligence platforms, marking “one of the largest commitments” the company has ever made in digital health, according to a spokesperson. That partnership was announced months after a collaboration with the University of California San Francisco to use machine learning on image-based diagnoses.
For Veritas Capital, the acquisition adds to several recent health IT investments.
“We see a tremendous opportunity to invest in this business and partner with management to take advantage of a $9 billion market that continues to benefit from favorable sector trends, particularly a real and urgent need to digitalize our healthcare system,” Veritas Capital CEO and Managing Partner Ramzi Musallam said.
TAMPA, Fla. – January 2, 2018 – Unified by a passion for helping independent physicians thrive, DAS Health has acquired Las Vegas-based Integra I.T. Solutions, an eMDs electronic health record Platinum reseller and IT services provider. The acquisition – DAS Health’s fifth in less than three years – broadens DAS Health’s electronic health record (EHR) services and technology solutions while enhancing customer support and care.
Already a leader in patient-centric health IT and management services and the largest national reseller of Aprima® Medical Software, DAS Health (DAS) will now sell and support eMDs Plus™, Lytec™, Practice Partner™, and Medisoft™ EHR and PM platforms. DAS continues to also offer cloud hosting, managed IT, VOIP, Security Risk Assessments, MIPS/MACRA reporting & consulting, as well as additional patient-centered and revenue generating services including assessURhealth™ mental & behavioral health screenings, chronic care management, and revenue cycle management (RCM) medical billing solutions.
“Together with Integra’s suite of services, DAS Health will now be able to share new benefits and better serve both our existing and new clients,” David Schlaifer, DAS Health President and CEO, stated. “This acquisition marks an exciting phase of DAS’ continued rapid growth and ability to help independent physicians prosper in an evolving industry.”
“Joining the DAS Health brand allows us to expand and enhance our existing services, raising the bar as a business partner and healthcare solutions provider,” Deepak Shroff, Managing Partner of Integra I.T. Solutions, who will be staying on through the acquisition. “I know that our clients are in good hands, with top of the line support from a recognized expert in the industry.”
The expanded company now serves nearly 2,000 clinicians and more than 600 practices nationwide. DAS plans to integrate Integra employees into its overall team, further expanding the company’s skill sets and talent pool. DAS will maintain its national headquarters in Tampa, FL, and expects to merge its existing west coast operations into Integra’s Las Vegas, NV office.
*Aprima is a registered trademark of Aprima Medical Software, Inc.
* eMDs, eMDs Plus, Lytec, Medisoft and Practice Partner are trademarks of eMDs, Inc.
Read original press release on Yahoo Finance
Staff at physician practices could benefit from a little more customer service training, leaders say.
The Medical Group Management Association polled 931 practice leaders and nearly half (47%) said that staff could use additional practice in customer service. Twenty percent of respondents said staff need extra revenue cycle management training, while 13% said government relations and 12% said leadership development were most important.
“Any customer-facing organization must be focused on delivering a high level of customer service, and medical practices face this challenge with patient satisfaction playing an increasing role in reimbursement and physician compensation,” according to MGMA.
Customer service can touch all facets of a patient’s care journey, and includes effective communication and providing comfort. Providers who were empathetic when treating patients had higher satisfaction scores, research shows.
Becoming an effective communicator requires time and effort; one researcher said he worked as much on his communication as he did on medical technique.
Good customer service is especially important in the era of online reviews. Practices looking to improve customer service can:
- Acknowledge wait times. An apology goes a long way.
- Make a good first impression. The first impression could determine if a patient will return.
- Personalize care. Treat patients like family, not like they’re on an assembly line.
Other solutions include practicing phone etiquette and using data analytics to reduce wait times and make appointment scheduling more efficient.
Practice managers can also nurture improvements by fostering growth in their own leadership, according to the article. It’s important to strike a balance in management styles and approaches to fit the staff at a specific practice, MGMA recommends.
The percentage of patients with bills of $500 or less who didn’t pay off the full balance in 2016 increased significantly over 2015.
Nearly 70% of patient’s with bills of $500 or less didn’t pay off the full balance in 2016, according to a new report released today during the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s Annual National Institute.
That’s a significant increase in the percentage of patient bills that weren’t paid in full in 2015 (53%) and 2014 (49%), the TransUnion Healthcare analysis found.
Other findings on payment patterns between 2014 and 2016 include:
- 63% of patient bills were $500 or less; of those hospital bills, 68% were not paid in full in 2016.
- 4% of patient bills were $3,000 or more; of those hospital bills, 99% were not paid in full in 2016.
- 10% of patient bills were $500 to $1,000; of those bills 85% were not paid in full in 2016.
“There are many reasons why more patients are struggling to make their healthcare payments in full, the most prominent of which are higher deductibles and the increase in patient responsibility from 10% to 30% over the last few years,” said Jonathan Wiik, author of the book “Healthcare Revolution: The Patient is the New Payer” and the principal for healthcare revenue cycle management at TransUnion, in an announcement. “This shift in healthcare payments has been taking place for well over a decade, but we are seeing more pronounced changes in how hospital bills are paid during just the last few years.”
And given the rise in healthcare costs and high-deductible health plans, the trend will only continue, he said. Furthermore, the study found that the percentage of patients who have made partial payments toward their hospital bills has gone down dramatically from 89%-90% in 2015-2016 to 77% in 2016.
“Higher deductibles and the increase in patient responsibility are causing a decrease in patient payments to providers for patient care services rendered,” John Yount, vice president for healthcare products at TransUnion, said in the announcement. “While uncompensated care has declined, it appears to be primarily due to the increased number of individuals with Medicaid and commercial insurance coverage.”
Despite the decline in uncompensated care, in 2015 hospitals wrote off approximately $35.7 billion as bad debt or charity care.
To address this growing problem, more hospitals are setting up programs to get patients to pay their portion of the bill in advance of a procedure. These initiatives include early payment plans as well as zero-interest, longer repayment options.