The following is a guest post by Jackie Risley, Director of Product Marketing, Data and Document Capture Products at ABBYY USA
As providers face the demands of HITECH, the Accountable Care Act and outcome-based payments, much of the healthcare IT focus has been on clinical applications. But it’s important to remember that Patient Accounting is also critical to a provider’s ability to deliver the best possible patient care. As the pressure grows to provide more services and maintain reimbursement levels, the role of Patient Accounting to keep cash flowing has never been more important.
According to a recent Paystream Advisors report, there are estimates that almost one-third of every dollar spent on healthcare is spent on administrative/back office expenses. This presents a real business case for improving efficiency as well as freeing dollars to focus on patient care and satisfaction. Automating the entry and reconciliation of EOB data can reduce days in accounts receivable (AR) and help manage costs. Despite the growing use of 835 to electronically transmit EOBs, there are still millions of pages of EOB received on paper every year.
Even a highly skilled employee can spend hours on a single lengthy EOB, but scanning EOBs and using automated data capture reduces the task to minutes. Employees quickly verify the computer results and then focus on tasks that improve patient and internal service, resolve exceptions faster and prevent delays in re-submission or secondary billing. In many cases, AR employees report higher morale and less frustration with their work, preventing turnover that can disrupt operations.
If you’re thinking about implementing automated EOB scanning and data capture, here are a few things to consider:
The technology is continuously improving. If you evaluated automated data capture in the past and thought it was too inaccurate, complicated to implement and expensive, it’s time to take another look. Data capture software offers high levels of accuracy and advanced features to extract data from virtually any EOB, and implementation times and costs have come down. And if you have an EOB capture solution that’s more than a year or two old, make sure you review the latest advances in the technology. By taking the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” attitude to software upgrades, you may not be aware of the latest features developed by software vendors competing through innovation.
You won’t see results overnight. But it shouldn’t take forever either. EOBs are one of the most complicated documents for which data capture is commonly used, and accuracy is obviously critical. No product will magically solve all of your problems, but by working with an experienced solution provider, you should be able to plan for ROI in about a year. After that the savings continue to add up, especially if multiple departments leverage the technology to drive their paperless initiatives.
Your end users will panic. Even after you convince them that they aren’t going to lose their jobs to the technology, there will be employees who will be upset about the disruption of their routine and the loss of control. Communication, training and incentives can help to ease the stress. Be sure they understand the benefits to the department, the organization and the higher level of their job activities. Perhaps just as importantly, communicate internally to be sure the rest of the organization understands the contributions the Patient Accounting team has made to the shared mission.
You don’t have to be an expert to be successful. There are already experts out there to help you. Experienced solution providers can help you set up a scanning and capture process that isn’t a burden to your employees. They can also help you integrate with the billing/other financial systems, denials management solutions or other applications, so the data gets where it needs to be to recognize the revenue as quickly as possible. You may even decide to outsource EOB capture to a secure service provider that can manage the data capture process for you.
Healthcare modernization may be reducing the amount of paper being handled by healthcare providers, but it certainly hasn’t eliminated it. A realistic approach to investing in Patient Accounting technology supports, rather than competes with, initiatives to improve clinical care by improving cash flow to fund the patient-facing initiatives.
Jackie Risley, a 10-year veteran of B2B software product marketing and management, is responsible for developing and executing sales and marketing strategy for ABBYY USA’s data capture business unit in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. She collaborates with global and regional development teams to drive product enhancement and direction, as well as works directly with key customers and partners to establish and capitalize on opportunities for revenue growth.