Automating Patient Registration Can Boost Revenue Streams

Mon, Jun 8, 2015 --

Reader Questions

Point of service technology eases information gathering and pays off in the claims process.

Collecting money from patients isn’t always easy — some experts estimate at least 30 percent of all patients leave the provider’s office without making any payment. Add to this problem the increase in high-deductible health plans, causing patient financial responsibility costs to double in the last seven years, and you end up with a high percentage of receivables for your practice.

But technology, along with good policies and procedures, can help your practice reverse this trend toward low patient collections.

Revenue cycle management (RCM) processes are designed to manage cash flow and make sure business income streams steadily into the practice. But many traditional RCM processes require administrative oversight of piles of paper, expensive in terms of both time and money.

Automating Patient Registration Can Boost Revenue Streams

Streamline Intake With Point of Service Systems

To remedy this, consider point of service (POS) systems integrated with either the EMR or the practice management system. These systems can import patient schedules, demographics, and balances and automatically prompt patients to provide any missing data at appointment check-in time. They automate those clipboard-laden registration workflows that require signatures for HIPAA forms and office policies.

Well-designed POS systems even digitize the history and review of systems forms patients fill out, integrating that information right into the EMR. POS systems can even do a batch check of insurance verification at the front end of the cycle, providing a benefits summary for every patient on the schedule, so there are no surprises when it comes to billing activities.

Good RCM practices on the patient intake end pay off later in the process, because at least 60 percent of the claim form information is gathered in the admission and registration stage. Clearly, collecting accurate information reduces claim denials.

Are No Shows a Problem for Your Practice?

Make sure you inform your patients up front if you plan to charge for broken appointments. Consider this policy carefully, however, as in some areas where practices face heavy competition for services, an unreasonable no-show policy could drive patients away.

Also, check with third-party payers to ensure that your contract does not limit you from charging for a no-show. For example, most payers won’t permit a no-show fee when a patient cancels an appointment at least 24 hours beforehand. Medicaid prohibits charging its patients a no-show fee, but Medicare permits it, as long as all patients (except for those on Medicaid, of course) are subject to the same policy.

However, remember that Medicare and most other third-party payers will not cover these charges. For this reason, it’s important that patients are aware of their responsibility for a no-show policy. Post notice of your policy in a prominent place, and have patients sign an acknowledgement form so they are prepared for any fees.

On the other hand, consider leniency on this no-show policy depending on circumstances. If it’s a first incident or if the patient had an unavoidable emergency, it’s good business practice to give the patient a break.

About 

Susan taught health information and healthcare documentation at the community college level for more than 20 years. She has a special love for medical language and terminology. She is passionate about ensuring accurate patient healthcare documentation through education. She has a master's degree in healthcare administration, is a certified healthcare documentation specialist, and serves as immediate past president for the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).

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