Becker’s CFO Report
Hospitals and health systems across the nation are looking for ways to tackle a growing industry problem: how to collect from patients with high-deductible health plans.
Traditional post-treatment collection approaches are expensive and ineffective. Ideally, 100 percent of patient responsible revenue would be secured prior to treatment, and that can be complicated when you don’t know exactly what the patients will owe.
“Collecting the patient-pay responsibility isn’t really part of the culture of healthcare,” said David Hoff, president and CEO of Wayne Memorial Health System in Honesdale, Pa., at the Becker’s Hospital Review 3rd Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference in Chicago on Sept. 21. However, with the influx of patients with high-deductible health plans, hospitals must do a better job of capturing revenue on both the inpatient and outpatient sides, according to Mr. Hoff.
When Wayne Memorial Health System examined ways to improve self-pay accounts, officials were adamant about not denying healthcare. However, they realized patient liability is a growing percentage of hospital debt, and they needed to be proactive.
At the beginning of the journey to improve patient revenue capture, officials learned there were several assumptions held by the system’s employees that needed to be corrected. For instance, Mr. Hoff said some employees thought patients do not or should not have to pay their bills, while others thought bad debt is not a big deal.
To help change the thinking around self-pay accounts, Wayne Memorial Health System enlisted the help of VestaCare, a La Jolla, Calif.-based company that provides software and services to hospitals. Using VestaPay, a fully integrated patient payment management system, Wayne Memorial Health System was able to not only improve patient revenue capture but also boost patient satisfaction by providing patients with an affordable monthly healthcare payment plan and reducing the number of patients it discharged into the community with bad debt. In the first 12 months, Wayne secured 37% of prior year bad debt and is on track to securing 60% of this current fiscal year’s patient revenue.
“We really liked the VestaCare approach,” said Mr. Hoff. In addition to VestaCare’s software working seamlessly across all departments and IT systems, Mr. Hoff said Wayne Memorial Health System benefited from the extensive training VestaCare provided to Wayne’s registration and scheduling staff. “This was a cultural change for the staff,” he said, “and VestaCare helped guide them through the transition.”
In working with Wayne Memorial Health System, VestaCare Founder and CEO Tom Brekka said the system was able to significantly improve patient collection efforts by securing nearly 100 percent of VestaPay enrolled patients’ liabilities before or at the point of service. VestaPay automates the entire patient financial lifecycle, including estimating patient liability prior to treatment and applying dynamic adjusting AutoPay plans, eliminating subsequent patient accounting steps. “It not only greatly improves patient revenue capture and increases patient satisfaction, but it also streamlines the entire patient accounting process,” said Mr. Brekka.