Centra Health resumes billing after 3-month EHR shutdown, offers patients discounts

Lynchburg, Va.-based Centra Health has resumed billing patients at locations using its new Cerner EHR, after it shut down the process for three months due to errors and delays, according to The News & Advance.  

The nonprofit health system began its Cerner go-live Sept. 1, 2018. However, there have been various problems with the EHR system, such as rejected claims, delayed or incorrect medical bills, and patient accounts being sent prematurely to collections for debt, the newspaper reported.

After seeing the complete billing cycle and realizing how big the issues were, Centra shut down its billing and collections at sites using Cerner in July. By that time, the system had issued 2,200 incorrect bills, spokesperson Diane Ludwig told The News & Advance.

Ms. Ludwig said affected patients have been notified and will get a 5 percent discount due to inconveniences from the billing problems. The discounts, as well as an explanation letter, will be included with new bills. Centra also has launched a new online portal to make it easier for patients to pay.

Andy Mueller, MD, president and CEO of Centra, told The News & Advance it is unclear how much the 5 percent discount will cost the system. The newspaper also asked Dr. Mueller if Cerner would cover financial losses resulting from the EHR, and he cited a non-disclosure agreement and said, "We're [Centra and Cerner] aligned in partnership to try to get this rectified. And we're both motivated around the same things."

Cerner representatives did not respond to the newspaper's email inquiries.

The phase one implementation at Centra's five hospitals and more than 60 ambulatory sites has been completed, and Dr. Mueller said the rollout is expected to continue next year at the remaining ambulatory sites and post-acute facilities.


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