Making collections easier: 2 healthcare RCM leaders on the tech they use

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In recent years, flurries of digital tools hit the market promising to optimize the payment collections process for healthcare providers. However, they're not all created equal, and providers must consider which part of their revenue cycle they want to improve and why before adopting such tools.

Patty Jones, director of revenue cycle at St. George, Utah-based Southwest Spine & Pain Center, said her team has had "tremendous success" using custom bot technology for insurance eligibility, patient estimates and pre-visit copay collection, as the tools make the check-in and collections processes more seamless.

Ms. Jones said their bots perform an eligibility check, calculate the patient's out-of-pocket costs and text them a link to pay from their phone two days before their appointment. She said the tools have improved collections and patient satisfaction.

"They like the new automation, and they love knowing what they are going to owe well before their visit," she said.

Robert Jacobs, the director of revenue cycle and patient financial services at Chicago's South Shore Hospital, said self-pay is the fastest growing hospital revenue, adding it will reach 40 percent of all revenues shortly.

"More and more patients are using the ER as their doctor because they are unemployed, out of work and have no active healthcare coverage," he said. "The self-pay portion, including co-pays, has grown over the last few years leading to more bad debt and losses to the bottom line."

Mr. Jacobs said tools that determine patients' ability to pay are key to the collection process.

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