Meeting Revenue Cycle Goals by Simplifying the Complexities of Self-Pay Management
by Ted Williams
The cost of healthcare is quickly rising across the nation and patients are shouldering the majority of the price increases through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses as expenditures continue to shift from employers to patients. According to a TransUnion Healthcare report released during HFMA’s 2016 National Institute in Las Vegas (www.marketwired.com/press-release/-2137926.htm), patients experienced a 13% increase in medical costs between 2014 and 2015.
A rise in self-pay patients usually signifies an increase in bad debt risk that can have a sharp and negative effect on revenue streams. As expected, healthcare organizations responded to this upward trend in patient financial responsibility by dedicating more attention and resources to managing their self-pay accounts. But are additional complications necessary? Can self-pay accounts be managed more effectively by actually taking fewer and more logical steps?
A unique view of self-pay
Recent work with pre-acute care providers, such as emergency medical services (EMS) and emergency medicine physician groups, reveals that most of these providers are struggling to address self-pay accounts. Hospitals and health systems report similar concerns. Addressing the rise in self-pay patients requires a shift change in revenue cycle management strategies and tactics.
Instead of raising the level of complexity required to manage self-pay receivables, providers should try to simplify efforts—work smarter, not harder. Determining patient propensity to pay is one of these practical steps. Using the pre-acute care sector as one example, qualification for accounts management can be radically simplified with significantly fewer steps.
Subscribers can read the full article in the September 2016 issue of HIM Briefings.