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Healthcare Execs Want To Collect More From Patients

Posted on May 26, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger 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.

Every healthcare provider wants to get paid, of course. However, collecting the ever-growing portion of revenue that patients owe is tough, and getting tougher. That being said, the majority of providers recognize that they have a big problem and are working to boost the volume and speed of patient payments, a new study finds.

The study, which is sponsored by claims management and patient payments vendor Navicure in affiliation with Porter Research, connected with 300 of professionals, including practice administrators (36%), C-suite executives (25%) and billing managers (35%). Forty-one percent of organizations had 1 to 10 providers, 31% had 11 to 50 providers, 12% had 51 to 100 providers and 17% had more than 100 providers.

In responding to the survey, 63% of survey respondents said that patient payment processes were a high priority for their leadership teams. Their challenges in collecting from patients included patients’ inability to pay (31%), difficulty educating patients about the financial responsibility (26%) and slow-paying patients (25%).

It’s not surprising that collecting patient payments is a priority for many organizations. The study found that patient payment revenue made up 11% to 20% of total revenue for almost a third of organizations that responded. Twenty percent of organizations said patient payments accounted for 21% to 30% of total revenue, and for 23%, patient payments accounted for more than 31% of total revenue.

More than half (57%) of respondents said they educate patients about their financial responsibility, but only 42% said they always estimate the patient’s cost at the time of service. What’s more, few have implemented steps that might streamline payment. Sixty-two percent do not offer credit card on file programs, 52% don’t have automated payment plans in place, and 57% don’t send electronic statements to patients.

To address these issues, Navicure recommends that providers make several changes in their patient payment processes. These include viewing patients’ eligibility information prior to or at the time of service, collecting copays and outstanding balances, creating care estimates and enrolling patients in any available payment plans.

While the survey doesn’t address this issue directly, it also doesn’t hurt to make bills more readable. I’ve read accounts of some hospital billing departments and medical office staffers spending hours on the phone with patients going over charges. Not only does this frustrate the patients, and undermine their relationship with your organization, it wastes a lot of time. Cleaning up bill formats can go a long way toward smoothing out routine payment issues.

On that note, it probably makes sense to roll out patient-friendly billing technologies. More than 70% of respondents who have replaced paper statements with online bill payment and e-statements would recommend this technology to a peer, and 42% of respondents using automated payment plans were very or completely satisfied.

Ultimately, however, collecting more from patients probably calls for changes in policy, the research suggests. While 35% ask for a partial deposit before service, and 26% collect all of what a patient owes before service, 18% of respondents said they didn’t collect anything before prior to service, and 21% said they didn’t charge until claims were processed.

NueMD’s Startling HIPAA Compliance Survey Results

Posted on December 12, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a recent HIPAA compliance survey of 1,000 medical practices and 150 medical billing companies, NueMD found some really startling results about medical practices’ understanding and compliance with HIPAA. You can see their research methodology here and the full HIPAA Compliance survey results.

This is the most in depth HIPAA survey I’ve ever seen. NueMD and their partners Porter Research and The Daniel Brown Law Group did an amazing job putting together this survey and asking some very important questions. The full results take a while to consume, but here’s some summary findings from the survey:

  • Only 32 percent of medical practices knew the HIPAA audits were taking place
  • 35 percent of respondents said their business had conducted a HIPAA risk analysis
  • 34 percent of owners, managers, and administrators reported they were “very confident” their electronic devices containing PHI were HIPAA compliant
  • 24 percent of owners, managers, and administrators at medical practices reported they’ve evaluated all of their Business Associate Agreements
  • 56 percent of office staff and non-owner care providers at practices said they have received HIPAA training within the last year

The most shocking number for me is that only 35% of respondents had conducted a HIPAA risk analysis. That means that 65% of practices are in violation of HIPAA. Yes, a HIPAA risk analysis isn’t just a requirement for meaningful use, but was and always has been a part of HIPAA as well. Putting the HIPAA risk assessment in meaningful use was just a way for HHS to try and get more medical practices to comply with HIPAA. I can’t imagine what the above number would have been before meaningful use.

These numbers explain why our post yesterday about HIPAA penalties for unpatched and unsupported software is likely just a preview of coming attractions. I wonder how many more penalties it will take for practices to finally start taking the HIPAA risk assessment seriously.

Thanks NueMD for doing this HIPAA survey. I’m sure I’ll be digging through your full survey results as part of future posts. You’ve created a real treasure trove of HIPAA compliance data.

HITR – Health Information Technology Research Hub and Social Network

Posted on November 15, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I imagine that many of you have seen some people talking about HITR around the web. It’s a website backed by the people at Porter Research and Billian’s HealthData. I know that I first saw it a few months ago and wasn’t quite sure I understood what they were trying to do. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to be Sermo, a private healthcare IT social network, or something new. The lack of clear vision for me meant I set it to the side.

While attending AHIMA this year I had the chance to spend quite a bit of time with a number of different people from Billian’s HealthData and Porter Research. We had a great time talking about all sorts of things, but they of course told me that I should look more at their new HITR product. I told them I’d take a look not knowing what to really expect.

A week or so ago, Jennifer Dennard set up a demo of HITR for me. While still a nascent product, I was intrigued how they used their knowledge and experience in healthcare research and embedded it so fully in the product. I guess I could have and should have assumed as much, but I was reasonably impressed with the idea of having a hub for healthcare IT research. I know how much I and other IT people love our data.

One interesting thing about HITR is the give to get model that they’ve set up. Basically they’ve arranged it so you give your feedback on your products to get access to other information and research from your peers. I imagine they’ll be adjusting this model over time, but it kind of reminds me of the open source model where everyone contributes a little bit and everyone benefits from the other people’s efforts.

The real challenge that HITR faces is just making sure they get enough people involved and participating to make the information they collect valuable. Plus, they have to get enough people and the right people on board. I’m not sure how scientific the results will be considering it’s a basically self selected example. I can’t remember if they include qualitative results along with the quantitative, but that could be really helpful even if the results aren’t scientifically correct on the quantitative side.

One other concept that they said they were exploring with HITR is the idea of getting connected with referral sites for a healthcare IT product that you’re considering. I REALLY love this idea. In my e-Book on EMR selection I recommend finding some referral sites and visiting them to get a feel for that EHR software in practice and to talk with a doctor who actually uses that EHR software day in and day out. The problem is that if you ask the EMR company for some referral sites they’ll give you a bias list. I suggest in the book to ask for their entire client list. However, I think using HITR could be another interesting way to find a referral site outside of the EMR vendors’ pre-groomed list.

I asked Jennifer Dennard to send me a list of some of the other benefits of using HITR. This should also give you a decent feel for what they’re working on with HITR.

I’d list the benefits for everyone as:

  • Ability to connect with peers
  • Blogs
  • Groups
  • Discussions
  • Job boards

Benefits to providers that take surveys would include:

  • Ability to gauge how your employees evaluate the systems you’ve put in place at your facilities
  • Ability to see how those same systems are rated by your colleagues at peer institutions
  • Ability to start a more in-depth dialogue with HITR connections about HIT systems you may be considering for your facility, and their experiences with those same systems
  • Ability to influence future HIT product development

Benefits to vendors include:

  • Ability to view how their systems are evaluated by their customers
  • Ability to correspond with providers for product management/development purposes
  • In the near future, vendors will be able to sponsor surveys through HITR to deploy to their chosen audiences – customers, prospects, etc.

If you have a chance to sign up for HITR, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience. Like I said, it’s a new site, but has some interesting possibilities if they execute it right.