Streamlining healthcare billing and payments: Top considerations for hospitals

Listen

For a consumer navigating the maze of healthcare systems and processes, there's nothing more onerous than dealing with a stack of hospital bills. High-performing hospitals dedicated to patient-centered care are moving toward centralized billing and a single point of contact for all stakeholders, including physicians and patients.

Many hospitals have adopted a Single Billing Office (SBO) model which has changed the game for hospital and healthcare system leaders in light of regulatory developments. This model streamlines the billing and revenue cycle processes. Particularly when integrated with banking partners, it increases automation, reduces days in accounts receivable and delivers greater billing process accuracy as well as patient-friendly billing processes.

There are three fundamental strategies to adopt when creating Single Billing Office systems and revenue strategies that healthcare financing professionals should consider:

1. Keep billing central. Hospitals are increasingly centralizing business office functions, offering a single point-of-payment contact that is more patient-friendly. However, payment centralization can complicate the receivable process because there may be several accounts consolidated on a single statement. A strong banking partner can help hospitals by using a lockbox to facilitate the posting of patient payments and customized data feeds representing payment transactions. Lockboxes ensure that payments are reconciled accurately and to the correct care provider and account. This best practice can improve billing accuracy, is patient-friendly and helps reduce the number of accounts receivable days so payments are posted sooner.

2. Put your bank to work on receivables. Establishing a relationship with an experienced banking team will result in better cash flow, less debt, an increase in recovery of denied or underpaid claims and greater overall efficiency. It is key to identify a team that can share best practices, tactical solutions and strategic advice about effectively managing a hospital through process change, even if it means changing the way they have always done business in order to improve. All parties should be aligned on objectives as new technologies are integrated.

In addition, a good banking partner will offer strong technology expertise to support the multiple patient accounting and finance platforms that may be present in an SBO environment. This includes the ability to implement the necessary processes, business rules and custom data feeds that allow online and paper payments to be applied to the correct accounts. Many patient accounting and billing systems have created patient-friendly, consolidated bills while at the same time creating new complexity in payment posting and reconciliation processes. It can be the job of the bank to tackle this complexity.

3. Harness more working capital. To strengthen patient-centric business practices, hospitals should make working capital a key priority. A billing process that is streamlined and leverages automation and technology will provide significant operating efficiencies. Less manual intervention will enable collections and cash posting to be expedited. Reducing days in accounts receivable can increase cash flow which ultimately can be reinvested in initiatives focused on quality of service. With a single billing office, providers spend less time collecting payments, free up more time for posting full, accurate payments without duplicate work and improve patient satisfaction scores.

###

In today's healthcare industry, we are always working to improve patient-centered care and striving for greater efficiency in the ecosystem. By consolidating and integrating healthcare billing and payment systems, we can streamline processes even as new regulations threaten to make these processes more nuanced and complicated. Partnering with a bank that has the technology know-how and capabilities to help integrate hospital and physician billing can assist with a seamless transition that benefits all stakeholders, including patients.

"Bank of America Merrill Lynch" is the marketing name for the global banking and global markets businesses of Bank of America Corporation. Lending, derivatives, and other commercial banking activities are performed globally by banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation, including Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Securities, strategic advisory, and other investment banking activities are performed globally by investment banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation ("Investment Banking Affiliates"), including, in the United States, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp., both of which are registered broker-dealers and Members of SIPC, and, in other jurisdictions, by locally registered entities. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated and Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corp. are registered as futures commission merchants with the CFTC and are members of the NFA. Investment products offered by Investment Banking Affiliates: Are Not FDIC Insured • May Lose Value • Are Not Bank Guaranteed.
©2017 Bank of America Corporation

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2021. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

 

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars