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If your payment data is currently dispersed across multiple systems, you might hit a roadblock in your plan for payment assurance.

In a webinar from our Back to School for Healthcare Payments series, 1+1 = 3: How Streamlining Your Healthcare Payments Can Drive Down Costs Immediately, we talked about the importance of maintaining one true source of data to achieve payment assurance.

What does your roadmap for payment assurance look like? Use these three checkpoints to analyze where your data might be failing you and how you can improve collection processes by pulling payment data from one reliable source.

Checkpoint #1: Talk to Your Staff About Their Processes to Collect

Collecting patient payments is time-consuming. Do you know how much time your staff spends to collect a single payment? Ask your staff to walk you through their daily process to collect, reconcile and post payments – you may be surprised to learn how much time is wasted on manual processes.

On average, it takes about eight minutes to collect one patient payment.

Eight minutes. Most people can run a mile in that time.

Let’s break it down: when you consider every step of collecting a patient payment, any manual steps involved will significantly slow down the process. Collecting a payment usually begins with an outbound call to a patient or an inbound call from a patient. Once on the phone, your staff usually spends time answering questions about the patient’s bill. After the patient understands what they owe and determines what and how they will pay, your staff has to record the payment and make sure that the patient gets a receipt. Finally, your staff has to post the payment in at least one place and reconcile the posted payments with the actual money that has been collected.

Consider also that this process is usually occurring more than one month after your staff sent out a bill since we know that 63 percent of providers report it takes one month or more to collect from a patient.

Once you understand your staff’s process for collecting patient payments, you can start thinking about ways to improve. For example, how can you leverage existing patient data to create more efficiency for your staff?

Checkpoint #2: Do an Audit of the Technology You Use to Collect Today

There is a ton of data in healthcare payments. How are you storing and accessing that data today? You should be able to run reports that pull payment data from every collection point and channel so that you can best assess where your payments are coming from and which collection channels are most effective.

The best way to get robust, accurate reports is to maintain one true source of data. We’ve spoken with providers who have been able to reduce collection efforts by 50 percent simply by pulling all of their data together to have one true data source to reference.

If your payment data is dispersed across multiple tools and systems, how are you getting those systems to talk to each other? Can you guarantee that you and your staff are always accessing the most up-to-date payment and patient balance information?

Checkpoint #3: Analyze Your Inbound Calls

Do you have high inbound call volume with patients who are confused about their bills? Analyze the kinds of questions your patients have about their payment responsibility. Understand what specifically they are confused about and talk to your staff about the steps they are taking to help clear up patient confusion. If your staff has to log in to multiple systems to find balance information, or if they don’t even have visibility into all payment data and can’t answer patient questions, then that is a problem. Instead, if you maintain one data source across your entire organization, staff will be able to access all payment data updated in real-time so they can give confused patients clear and accurate information about their payments.

Oftentimes, inbound call volume remains high even when a provider offers patients self-service payment tools. This is usually because organizations don’t always consider that new technology is a process change as well. If you train your staff to educate patients upfront, there will be less confusion when the bill comes.

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