Five Actions to Bolster Payment

Julie Auton, February 1, 2018

"We've implemented meetings three days a week with case management, our front-end staff, our finance folks, and our health information management (HIM) team to discuss concurrent denials, which are mostly status change issues," says Donna Ellenburg, director of revenue cycle at Community Health Systems Grandview Medical Center, a 372-bed hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.

3. Make it easy for patients to interact with you about their bill.

Educating patients about their coverage and payment options is key to getting paid.

South Nassau Communities Hospital, a 455-bed, acute care, not-for-profit teaching hospital with multiple ambulatory facilities in Oceanside, New York, deploys financial counselors to meet with patients during their hospital stay.

Their role can be particularly important when a patient's change in status alters payment responsibilities.

"Our counselors are not just bill collectors; they are focused on education," says John Stryska, senior director, access services. "If there are other people in the room, our counselor explains who she is, that her purpose is to talk about their insurance coverage, and if the patient is comfortable having that conversation with others present. If they're not, then she'll return at another time."

"Our counselors are not just bill collectors; they are focused on education."

—John Stryska, senior director, access services at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, New York

Providing easy-to-understand statements and online service is another approach to securing payment. More organizations are offering self-service portals and a chat line for questions about estimates, as well as the ability to pay.

"We used to have separate bills for our hospital side versus our physician side, and recently we put everything on My Health Online, which is our online system," says Alex Collins, director of revenue integrity at Piedmont Athens (Georgia) Regional, a 360-bed nonprofit hospital in the Piedmont Healthcare system that includes a Level II trauma center and a Level III neonatal intensive care unit. "Combining it makes it easier for patients."

Julie Auton

Julie Auton is the leadership programs editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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