It is a common problem. Each year, practices and hospitals lose millions of dollars when patient care is not billed the way that it should be. Items are missed and that means they are not charged. If they are not charged, the physician is not reimbursed.
The area of patient charge capture is a complicated one. Some have tried to tackle the matter with very little success, simply because of the number of items that could be reviewed. In an effort to reduce the number of errors and increase efficiency, there is a tendency for healthcare to immediately reach for a technological solution. When it comes to patient charge capture, there are many dispensing devices that could assist in maintaining the billing of patients and the inventory of supplies. However, these are expensive technologies.
At Yale-New Haven, they used a sticker system. They would place a colored sticker on an item and ensure that the item had the proper sticker. This helped with inventory of items and the sticker would have a code on it to ensure it was billed properly. The sticker would then be removed from the item and placed on the patient’s charge card to ensure they were billed for that item.
However, an audit showed that 10 percent of the items that vendors sent to Yale-New Haven were not stickered and some of them had stickers with inaccurate codes. When the codes are inaccurate, then the item cannot be billed.
Mobile Charge Capture
Mobile charge capture technology is something that is becoming more popular because it relieves the frustration that is brought on by lost charges, data entry errors, payment delays, and inaccurate billing information. Mobile charge capture technology allows for the improvement of patient care, revenue increases, and lower billing administration costs.
Some thoughts on the ROI of mobile charge capture are as follows:
• Lost charges are reduced
• Revenue increase
• Expediting the billing process
• Reducing denials
• Reducing write-offs from “no authorizations”
• Increasing the efficiency of the administrative staff
• Decreasing administrative costs
• Improving rounding efficiency
• Streamlining examination compliance
Mobile charge capture can increase collections by increasing the number of captured charges. In fact, the average percentage increase is 13 percent. This is rather significant, especially in an environment of diminishing reimbursement.
Ensuring Proper Training
Regardless of the system that is used to improve charge capture, it is important that all involved individuals have the proper training and awareness. It is also a must to create and implement solid quality assurance procedures to make sure charge items are labeled at the supplier level. Even shelves should be labeled. This form of visual control helps all who will be dealing with those particular items.
For every procedure from the pick process and accurate listing of items to communication systems, employees have to be trained to properly to handle each system and they have to handle them correctly each time in order to achieve accurate charge capture. The end result is an increased percentage of patient charges captured.
At Yale-New Haven, they implemented a new system. They changed their management tools, better trained the workers, had meetings between supplier and hospital representatives, developed regular update processes, and improved their communication. They increased their charge captures by over 50 percent. While they didn’t use a mobile charge capture system, improving charge capture processes made a significant difference in the end. Here is a better rundown of what they achieved:
• Secured an agreement between materials and finance departments on what was chargeable and what wasn’t
• Had supplier and hospital materials department complete an accurate list of the items
• Developed a new patient charge policy and procedure
• Educated users with “getting to know” your patient charge items
• Developed procedures to flag auto-substitutions
• Instructed all hospital pickers on how to create their own labels rather than relying on someone else to do it
• Made sure the lists that parties worked off of were accurate
Doing all of these things and more proved to be very effective in achieving better patient charge capture, which then resulted in a more positive impact on the bottom line of the hospital.
If you are losing money because of a need for improved patient charge capture, MD Pro Solutions can help you. You can call us at 508-946-1665 or fill out our contact form for more information.