There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about how automation and “robots” are going to make our life easier by doing jobs that we don’t want to do. This is for everything from driverless cars to tax filing. While there are certainly some great things that can come from this I certainly hope that the trajectory of our current automation path takes hold quickly in the healthcare space as well.
In healthcare, there is automation in billing and the auto-posting of payments that dates back many years. For a quick historical perspective the government designed the systems used today to automate the billing and auto-posting for insurance payments. This system created a standard format for sending billing requests and then returned payment information. In most cases that I have found, there is nothing "automatic" about the way patient billing is processed today. There are still lots of manual steps that need to be taken to reconcile the money collected from the patients’ account. Without going into all the boring details there are still a significant number of processes that need to be completed in order to ensure that every patient payment is applied not only to the right account, but also to the specific service that was provided just like for insurance payments.
At the heart of the process, the patient is paying down a balance that they agree they owe and the practice or hospital has to manually figure out how to post the money collected. Once the payment arrives then it is up to the billing person to determine where to apply these funds. In the hospital’s instance it may be applied to a facility fee when the patient was really paying for their provider(s). Then when a new bill is sent out to the patient stating they still owe for their providers things gets very confusing since they thought this bill had already been paid. In a practice’s case funds might be applied to an older balance so the bill the patient thought was paid is now being billed again. While this sounds like not a big deal it is magnified when a billing manager has to explain to the patient what they have and have not paid for.
Healthcare providers need automation that truly auto-posts payments back down to the line of service, date of service, and provider just like an insurance payment with the single click of a button not manual intervention. Why? Because not only will the billing group save a lot of time and money, but more importantly they will have more credibility when dealing with calls from their confused patients.
A recent report shows that 71 percent of patients whose bill aligns with their EOB from their insurance company will pay their bill right away. Patients want to pay their healthcare bills while healthcare providers want to reduce costs, increase profitability and have a better patient experience.
Let’s make sure everybody gets what they want.