BACKGROUND OF ASPEN VALLEY HOSPITAL
Aspen Valley Hospital is a critical access hospital in Colorado serving over 35,000 patients annually on average among the hospital and its two off-site clinical locations.
CORE BUSINESS PROBLEM
Aspen Valley Hospital was not effectively collecting many payments in the front office during patient visits, which increased the amount of administrative work required in the back office to collect, also resulting in a decrease in cash flow.
With InstaMed, Aspen Valley is collecting more payments in the front office, significantly reducing the work required in the back office to try to collect. Aspen Valley is getting paid faster and improving efficiency by automating the patient payments process.
- Increased front office payments by 124 percent over five years
- Increased days cash on hand by 52 percent over five years
- Reduced administrative time and costs to process payments by 65 percent over five years
“The ability to access payment information from all of our locations is wonderful because I’m constantly traveling between our various locations, so I can check the balance for the day no matter where I am.”
– Debby Essex, Director of Admissions, Aspen Valley Hospital
ASPEN VALLEY HOSPITAL’S STORY:
Simplifying Patient Payments
To collect patient card payments, Aspen Valley rented slow, non-healthcare specific bank terminals and shipped them to its five clinical and administrative locations. Each day, the billing staff would have to deliver all paper receipts through the hospital’s inter-office mail system to the finance department, who would scan the receipts and enter the transaction amounts into a spreadsheet. Using this final spreadsheet, billing staff manually posted and reconciled the payments. This entire process took about 10 hours of administrative work each week.
Today, the hospital uses InstaMed’s secure, integrated payment card devices on computers at all locations, and can post payments online as soon as they are collected. This simplifies the reconciliation process and enables hospital staff at all locations to easily view how much was collected and what the patient owes.
Automating Payment Plans
Since Aspen Valley sees a lot of high-deductible and self-pay patients, the staff frequently set up payment plans for patients. This required staff to manage payment plan schedules through a paper filing system and manually process the payments each month, requiring about five hours of work per week.
“The process was taking up a lot of staff time, and we had to make sure the files were always locked up so the payment information was secure,” said Debby.
Aspen Valley now securely saves patient cards on file to set up automatic, scheduled payment plans. This eliminates the time spent manually processing the payments each month and ensures that all payment information is secure.
Increasing Front Office Collections
Before using InstaMed, Aspen Valley’s front office staff occasionally collected payments during the patient visit. As a result, the hospital saw an increase in cash flow because it relied almost entirely on the back office to collect all payments.
To help address this issue, Aspen Valley introduced a staff incentive program for collecting payments during the patient visit. With InstaMed’s robust reporting tools, Debby is able to easily send daily updates to staff on their progress.
“InstaMed’s reporting tools have made this program so much easier,” said Debby. “I can track the progress my front office staff is making and motivate them by sending out these customized reports.”
With InstaMed, Aspen Valley is collecting at every patient interaction point. The hospital uses the InstaMed Go mobile app to quickly and securely collect patient payments with iPads when discharging inpatients at bedside.
“We can collect payments and set up payment plans without asking patients to go to another desk to pay,” said Debby. “InstaMed has enabled us to collect in so many different ways to increase our front office payments.”
By collecting more during the patient visit, Aspen Valley has cut down on the number of patient statements mailed and the amount of time spent trying to collect in the back office.
Result: Aspen Valley Hospital has increased its front office payments by 124 percent over five years.
Reducing Back Office Time and Costs with Online Payments
Aspen Valley also offers its patients the option of paying online with the InstaMed Patient Portal. The hospital embedded the Patient Portal page directly into its website, allowing patients to pay at their convenience.
“We print our Patient Portal URL on statements, print-outs and anywhere else we can,” said Debby. “When patients know how to easily pay us online, it saves us the time to follow up and collect.”
Through its promotion of the Patient Portal, Aspen Valley has increased Patient Portal use by 85 percent over the past two years.
Additionally, since Aspen Valley Hospital is located in an area commonly visited by tourists, it has a significant international patient base. With the Patient Portal, even if patients live in another country, it’s easy for them to go online and pay their hospital bills.
Using InstaMed to Simplify Every Payment
As an added benefit to the community, the hospital holds evening education classes on various health topics. In order to collect card payments for these classes, instructors used to manually record the payment information during the class then bring the information to the front desk to process the payments the following day.
“It was hard to manage,” said Debby. “People would ask for their receipts later on, and we’d have to go back through piles of paper to find them.”
Aspen Valley integrated its online class registration with the Patient Portal, so attendees can easily register and pay immediately from the hospital’s website.
For all payments, if someone asks for a receipt, staff can use InstaMed to easily pull up receipts from any past payment and reprint or email them.
“A lot of our patients prefer to have us just email their receipts so they have it on file electronically,” said Debby. “It’s an added convenience they get in other industries, so it’s great that we can also provide this.”
Additionally, with a new gift shop opening soon, the hospital plans to use InstaMed to process payments for all purchases.
“We’re really trying to take advantage of every way that we can use InstaMed because it has worked so well for us,” said Debby.
Saving Time and Costs with Easy Refunds
Prior to all scheduled procedures, Aspen Valley staff verifies patient eligibility benefits to estimate patient responsibility and collect this amount during the patient visit. When the claim is adjudicated, if the amount collected was more than the actual amount owed, the hospital issues a refund for the excess amount – an inefficient, multi-step process.
To issue refunds, billing staff first had to create backups of the refunds, then the finance department reviewed the refunds, created the checks and mailed them out. The entire process required up to five hours of work each week across the front/back office staff and finance departments.
InstaMed automated this process for the hospital, enabling staff to automatically refund a payment back onto the patient’s card in just a few clicks.
“Our patients are happy because they get their refunds right away, and it really cuts down on the amount of time we spent issuing checks,” said Debby.
By increasing efficiency in payments processing, Aspen Valley was able to support an increase in patient volume without hiring additional staff to manage the pre-certification process.
Result: By automating collection and refund processes, Aspen Valley has reduced the time and costs to process payments by 65 percent over five years.