Improving Financial Performance By Accelerating Cash Flow

Posted on July 24, 2013 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

In IT circles, revenue cycle management isn’t the sexiest assignment, but collecting revenue is the lifeblood of your hospital nonetheless. In this e-book, Relay Health offers several suggestions for speeding up cash flow by being proactive about when and where cash is collected.

Right now, as the book notes, hospitals rely on collecting co-pays at the time of service, while determining and collecting the balance post-service. However, the likelihood of patients paying goes down after they leave the hospital.

To address collections pre-service, Relay Health suggests hospitals use technology to screen patients for eligibility for benefits and their propensity to pay bills, verify their personal data and identity information to avoid fraud and speed the claims process, and screen them for charity assistance.

There’s also several steps the e-book recommends which can increase the propensity of patients to pay post-discharge, including leveraging patient data to customize statements with relevant messages; using visually-appealing statement formats; offering online bill  payment and management; and integrating an estimation/verification tool to help focus the discussion of patient responsibility.

Another important step  hospitals can take is to evaluate their claims management processes and shift effort to areas where the greatest impact can be felt, the book suggests.  As of the first half of 2012,  the average service-to-payment velocity industry wide was 45.3 days from patient discharge to resolution. This can be helped by finding process delays in key areas of claims performance, including service to release of claim, service to submission of claim, submit to Transmit and Transmit to Payment, Relay Health suggests.

Still another way in which hospitals can improve their revenue cycle management performance is to engage in comparative analytics, benchmarking their financial performance to improve decision-making.  The e-book notes that while traditional benchmarking presents several issues — not the least of which being that comparing performance indicators between organizations may be an “apples to oranges” comparison — benchmarking using comparative analytics avoids these issues.

Ultimately, the e-book notes, healthcare providers will transition from a focus on internal data repositories for performance information to a more outward-facing, patient-centric model integrating data from claims, EMRs, PHRs, analytics technologies, CRM systems and health insurance exchanges. In the mean time,  it suggests, it’s definitely worth the effort to fine-tune RCM systems using the data you have.