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Multiple statements for services rendered during one healthcare encounter raise patient confusion and slow the payment process.

How friendly is your patient billing? This time, we're not asking in regard to statement layout and design or even language. We're inquiring about your level of charge consolidation. All too often, provider organizations send separate statements for care provided within a single health system leaving patients to make sense of a stack of bills. Yet, from the patients' perspective, they interacted with just one provider organization. No matter how well organized or clearly designed, statements may miss the mark on patient friendliness if they arrive piecemeal in the mail.

Consumers Need Clarity

Patients often find it confusing to receive multiple statements from a single healthcare system. It's like shopping at one grocery store but paying separately for items purchased in each department, such as fruit, bread, and canned goods. When separate bills for the emergency department, outpatient services, hospital, and lab arrive in the mail one by one, that's hardly a patient-friendly approach.

The Problem with Multiple Statements

It can be common for recipients to disregard multiple statements because they incorrectly presume the statements are duplicate copies of the same bill. Likewise, patients may arbitrarily pick and choose what statements to pay if they're unsure how to prioritize the bills. Unfortunately, a confused patient is more likely to pick up the phone with billing-related questions, rather than pick up a pen to write a check for payment.

The Many Reasons Multiple Statements Persist

Despite the problems, multiple statement billing is still standard across the industry because consolidation can be difficult for resource-strapped organizations trying to do it all on their own. This can create an issue, especially for providers operating with disparate billing systems. Unfortunately, many providers decide to stay the course rather than pursue a better approach.

Time to Consolidate Efforts

Consolidated statements are logical, patient-focused solutions, and it's imperative that healthcare systems find ways to answer patients' billing needs. To enhance cash flow long term, providers should strive to make it easier and faster for patients to pay. Across the board, the benefits of moving to consolidated statements are compelling for both patients and providers.

For patients:

  • Improves the readability of statements
  • Reduces the amount of paperwork patients are required to manage
  • Clarifies how the various departments, locations, and services within a health system work together to offer comprehensive care
  • Reduces the amount of time and effort associated with researching billing questions

For providers:

  • Reduces statement printing and mailing costs
  • Improves staff productivity with fewer billing inquiries
  • Accelerates cash flow as more patients pay on time and in full

How to "Get It Together"

Many provider organizations simply can't go it alone when it comes to consolidating statements: They may want to tap into the latest technologies offered by industry partners. Vendors in the market today can offer advanced printing and electronic mapping capabilities to make consolidation surprisingly simple and can tackle the "heavy lifting."

Consolidated Statements Are the Future

For providers looking to streamline all aspects of clinical and financial record keeping for patients, consolidated billing is the future-focused solution that's friendly to patients, beneficial for providers, and better for the system.

Emdeon ExpressBill Services provides paper and online patient billing and statement services that educate patients on their  financial responsibilities. Emdeon handles printing, processing, and mailing of patient statements.

Publication Date: Monday, November 26, 2012