At two Houston-area hospitals, we recaptured patient volume in our diagnostic imaging departments that was migrating to corporate- and physician-owned competitors. In addition to reviving the imaging volumes, we exceeded budgets in that department by more than 10 percent throughout multiple financial reporting quarters. In my role as an administrator focused on business development at a freestanding community hospital and a for-profit hospital (that was part of a large national chain), I led teams using similar strategies to successfully increase patient volume in the hospitals’ imaging departments. First, I worked with the hospitals’ leadership to determine reasons for the decline in our imaging patient volume. We concluded that faster scheduling and more efficient handling of new patients at corporate-owned and physician-owned imaging facilities in the area was drawing patients away from our imaging services. Initially, some team leaders recommended buying new software to improve the patient scheduling challenges. However, covering the costs of the software was a concern. We were not certain if the loss in volume resulted from a need for new technology or from permanent changes in healthcare delivery trends that would continue in the future regardless of a software investment. We needed an alternative strategy. We decided to examine our processes and identify areas for improvement that could boost volume at little to no cost. Without taking on additional expenses, projected growth in patient volume would go directly to the hospitals’ bottom lines.
In both markets, we formed multidisciplinary diagnostic imaging volume development teams that met every two weeks to assess what was necessary to compete with the corporate- and physician-owned centers. Each team included radiologists, a medical director, an imaging administrator, an MRI/CT manager, MRI/CT/other imaging techs, a business office manager, a scheduling coordinator, a marketing director, physician liaisons, a CFO, and other officers including the CEO. Instead of finding fault or casting blame, team meetings fostered a sense of collaboration and emphasized compassion for patients and a concern for the future of the imaging departments. We knew that the traditional hospital delivery model was under fire and changes might be uncomfortable for some hospital staff. However, maintaining our current processes wouldn’t improve patient care or the health of our imaging business. Our teams asked a root question: Why are customers choosing the corporate- and physician-owned facilities? The teams concluded that those facilities could get patients in faster for their X-rays and tests, which was a critical differentiator. In each case, the teams believed that their hospitals had a quality edge over the corporate- or physician-owned facilities, so they set out to make organization-wide changes to address this lack of speed and turn the hospitals back into providers-of-choice for customers.
We made the following changes at the two Houston-area hospitals that resulted in significant increases in patient imaging volume.Filled immediate holes in the schedule. When customers called to book an imaging appointment, schedulers were suggesting dates a few weeks in the future. This was easier for the schedulers than looking at the schedule for the next few days and suggesting specific open times. Unfortunately, such an approach left near-term holes in the imaging schedule. In addition, this approach generally was not in the best interest of patients who usually prefer to receive their MRIs or mammograms as soon as possible. We instructed schedulers to try to fill the immediate holes in the schedule and explained to schedulers why this approach was important to the hospitals’ imaging businesses. Prepared the business offices for quicker pre-certification turnaround. Because schedulers were now filling immediate open times in the schedule, the business offices at both hospitals needed to pre-certify patients for insurance coverage more quickly than in the past. Rather than having two weeks to conduct that process, they might only have two hours if an appointment was made on the same day the customer contacted the hospital.Added hours of operation. We added Saturday imaging hours to create more scheduling capacity and better accommodate the schedules of today's consumers. The additional hours also improved our competitive advantage because patients are more likely to select providers that offer convenient hours.Assigned imaging employees to physicians and offices. We asked imaging techs, who served on the imaging committee, to acquaint themselves with specific physicians and their office managers and office nurses to personalize the scheduling experience. For example, after imaging techs developed relationships with a physician’s office, the office managers calling with a question or to schedule an imaging appointment had confidence that their request would be handled competently. That confidence in the hospitals’ imaging staff also increased the number of patient recommendations that physician managers and nurses made to the hospitals’ imaging departments.We also found another benefit to building relationships between imaging techs and physicians’ offices: The imaging staff reported greater satisfaction in their work because they were helping people they knew personally. Notified physician offices of schedule openings. Physicians’ offices expected that the hospitals would take longer to schedule imaging appointments, so they directed patients wanting faster service to the corporate- and physician-owned centers.To ensure that physicians’ offices knew our hospitals could deliver timely services, we started using fax blasts to inform physicians’ offices when same-day appointments were available. When physician office managers or office nurses arrived in the morning, a fax was waiting with imaging appointments available that day. We also encouraged imaging techs to call their assigned physician office managers and office nurses early in the morning to inform them of open afternoon appointment times. Those notifications attracted patients who saw their physicians in the morning and wanted to receive their imaging results that same day. Scheduled multiple tests in a single visit. If patients required multiple tests, schedulers would try to complete all tests in a single visit as part of the overall efforts to better meet customer needs. For instance, lab work would be scheduled the same day the patient arrived for an imaging study.Encouraged fast turnaround from radiology. Whenever possible, the hospitals’ radiologists would send imaging results back to the referring physicians on the same day of patients’ appointments. This improved physician and patient satisfaction. Suddenly, we were doing a better job at satisfying our medical staff, the physicians, and our patients.Assessed volume by physician—and shared the results. We identified which physicians were taking advantage of the new approach to scheduling imaging appointments. Those results were shared with the imaging team members as evidence of the success of their efforts,which served as additional motivation to bring about improvements. Soon, these satisfied physicians began sharing with their colleagues how our outpatient imaging services had improved. This favorable feedback led to other physicians, including historically low utilizers, to refer patients to the hospital's outpatient imaging department for prompt, high-quality outpatient services. As in other businesses, satisfied customers can become your greatest sales force.
By meeting the needs of multiple customers—patients, physicians’ offices, and hospital colleagues—the diagnostic imaging departments at the two Houston-area hospitals recaptured lost volume and exceeded budgets. Our all-hands-on-deck approach allowed both hospitals to overcome a declining diagnostic imaging business by improving scheduling, extending service hours, and developing relationships with physician offices.
Darrell Pile, MHA, is an executive advisor for Outpatient Healthcare Strategies.
Ontario Systems: Maximizing Self Pay Collections
The Claro Group: Helping Hospitals and Healthcare Systems Improve the Bottom Line
Deloitte: Helping Organizations Navigate MACRA
ClearBalance: Boosting Patient Payment through Consumer-Friendly Loan Programs
Deloitte Consulting LLP: Employing Innovative Solutions to Optimize Revenue Cycle Performance
Grant Thornton LLP: Maintaining and Improving Collections During an EMR Implementation
6 Patient Revenue Cycle Metrics You Should Be Tracking (and How to Improve Your Results)
Patient financial engagement is more challenging than ever – and more critical. With patient responsibility as a percentage of revenue on the rise, providers have seen their billing-related costs and accounts receivable levels increase. If increasing collection yield and reducing costs are a priority for your organization, the metrics outlined in this presentation will provide the framework you need to understand what’s working and what’s not, in order to guide your overall patient financial engagement initiatives and optimize results.
10 Ways to Reduce Patient Statement Volume (and Reduce Costs)
No two patients are the same. Each has a very personal healthcare experience, and each has distinct financial needs and preferences that have an impact on how, when and if they chose to pay their healthcare bill. It’s no longer effective to apply static billing techniques to solve the complex challenge of collecting balances from patients. The need to tailor financial conversations and payment options to individual needs and preferences is critical. This presentation provides 10 recommendations that will not only help you improve payment performance through a more tailored approach, but take control of rising collection costs.
Reduce Patient Balances Sent to Collection Agencies: Approaching New Problems with New Approaches
This white paper, written by Apex Vice President of Solutions and Services, Carrie Romandine, discusses the importance of patient segmentation and messaging specifically related to the patient revenue cycle. Applying strategic messaging that is tailored to each patient type will not only better educate consumers on payment options specific to their billing needs, but it will maximize the amount collected before sending to collections. Further, targeted messaging should be applied across all points of patient interaction (i.e. point of service, customer service, patient statements) and analyzed regularly for maximized results.
The Future of Online Patient Billing Portals
This white paper, written by Apex President Patrick Maurer, discusses methods to increase patient adoption of online payments. Providers are now seeking ways to incrementally collect more payments due from patients as well as speeding up the rate of collections. This white paper shows why patient-centric approaches to online payment portals are important complements to traditional provider-centric approaches.
Payment Portals Can Improve Self-Pay Collections and Support Meaningful Use
Increased electronic engagement between healthcare providers and patients provides significant opportunities for improving revenue cycle metrics and encouraging patients to access EHRs. This article, written by Apex Founder and CEO Brian Kueppers, explores a number of strategies to create synergy between patient billing, online payment portals and electronic health record (EHR) software to realize a high ROI in speed to payment, patient satisfaction and portal adoption for meaningful use.
Large Health System Drives 10% UP (Patient Payments) and 10% DOWN (Billing-related Costs)
Faced with a rising tide of bad debt, a large Southeastern healthcare system was seeing a sharp decline in net patient revenues. The need to improve collections was dire. By integrating critical tools and processes, the health system was able to increase online payments and improve its financial position. Taking a holistic approach increased overall collection yield by 10% while costs came down because the number of statements sent to patients fell by 10%, which equated to a $1.3M annualized improvement in patient cash over a six-month period. This case study explains how.
ICD-10: Managing Performance
With the ICD10 deadline quickly approaching and daily responsibilities not slowing down, final preparations for October 1 require strategic prioritization and laser focus.
Clarity Drives Collections
Read how Gwinnett Medical Center provides clear connections to financial information, offers multiple payment options for patients, and gives onsite staff the ability to collect payments at multiple points throughout the care process.
Orlando Health Gains Insight into Denials, Reduces A/R Days with RelayAnalytics Acuity
Read how Orlando Health was able to perform deeper dives into claims data to help the health system see claim rejections more quickly–even on the front end–and reduce A/R days.
Revenue Cycle Payment Clarity
To maintain fiscal fitness and boost patient satisfaction and loyalty, healthcare providers need visibility into when and how much they will be paid–by whom–and the ability to better navigate obstacles to payment. They need payment clarity. This whitepaper illuminates this concept that is winning fans at forward-thinking hospitals.
Streamlining the Patient Billing Process
Financial services staff are always looking for ways to improve the verification, billing and collections processes, and Munson Healthcare is no different. Read about how they streamlined the billing process to produce cleaner bills on the front end and helped financial services staff collect more than $1 million in additional upfront annual revenue in one year.
Wallace Thomson Hospital Automates to Maximize Limited Resources
Effective revenue cycle management can be a challenge for any hospital, but for smaller providers it is even tougher. Read how Wallace Thomson identified unreimbursed procedures, streamlined claims management, and improved its ability to determine charity eligibility.
7 Steps for Building and Funding Sustainability Projects
Before launching an energy-efficiency initiative, it’s important to build a solid business case and understand the funding options and potential incentives that are available. Healthcare leaders should consider taking the steps outlined in the whitepaper to ease the process of gaining approval, piloting, implementing, and supporting sustainability projects. You will find that investing in sustainability and energy efficiency helps hospitals add cash to their bottom line. Discover how hospitals and health systems have various options for funding energy-efficient and renewable-energy initiatives, depending on their current financial structure and strategy.
Key Capital Considerations for Mergers and Acquisitions
Health care is a dynamic mergers and acquisitions market with numerous hospitals and health systems contemplating or pursuing formal arrangements with other entities. These relationships often pose a strategic benefit, such as enhancing competencies across the continuum, facilitating economies of scale, or giving the participants a competitive advantage in a crowded market. Underpinning any profitable acquisition is a robust capital planning strategy that ensures an organization reserves sufficient funds and efficiently onboards partners that advance the enterprise mission and values.
Key Capital Considerations for Mergers and Acquisitions
The success of healthcare mergers, acquisitions, and other affiliations is predicated in part on available capital, and the need for and sources of funding are considerations present throughout the partnering process, from choosing a partner to evaluating an arrangement’s capital needs to selecting an integration model to finding the right money source to finance the deal. This whitepaper offers several strategies that health system leaders have used to assess and manage capital needs for their growing networks.
Trend Watch: Providers adapt as value-based care moves from hype to reality
Announcements from several commercial payers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) early in 2015 around increased efforts to form value-based contracts with providers seemed to point to an impending rise in risk-based contracting. Rather than wait for disruption from the outside in, health care providers are now making inroads on collaborating with payers on various risk-based contracting models to increase the value of health care from within.
Yuma Regional Medical Center case study
Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is a not-for-profit hospital serving a population of roughly 200,000 in Yuma and the surrounding communities.
Before becoming a ZirMed client, Yuma was attempting to manually monitor hundreds of thousands of charges which led to significant charge capture leakage. Learn how Yuma & ZirMed worked together to address underlying collections issues at the front end, thus increasing Yuma’s overall bottom line.
Reforming with a New 50-Bed Acute Care Facility
Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services works with partners to audit the market and the facility’s role in that market to identify opportunities for improvement. This approach leads to successes; Kindred’s clinical rehab and management expertise complements our partners’ strengths. Every facility and challenge is unique, and requires a full objective analysis.
5-Minute Briefing on Revenue Integrity Through HIM WhitePaper Hospitals FS
As the critical link between patient care and reimbursement, health information enables more complete and accurate revenue capture. This 5-Minute White Paper Briefing shares how to achieve cost-effective revenue integrity by your optimizing HIM systems.
5-Minute Briefing on Accelerating Cash Flow Through HIM WhitePaper Hospitals FS
Speedier cash flow starts with better CDI and coding. This 5-Minute White Paper Briefing explains how providers can improve vital measures of technical and business performance to accelerate cash flow.
5-Minute Briefing on Reducing the Cost of RCM WhitePaper Hospitals FS
Qualified coders are getting harder to come by, and even the most seasoned professional can struggle with the complexity of ICD-10. This 5-Minute White Paper Briefing explains how partnerships can help improve coding and other key RCM operations potentially at a cost savings.
Providers Focus Too Much On Revenue Cycle Management
The point of managing your revenue cycle isn’t just to improve revenue and cash flow. It’s to do those things effectively by consistently following best practices— while spending as little time, money, and energy on them as possible.
Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Case Study
How Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford increased payments received within 45 days by 20% and reduced paper submission claims by 70% by using ZirMed solutions.
Using Predictive Modeling To Detect Meaningful Correlations Across Claims Denials Data
The reasons claims are denied are so varied that managing denials can feel like chasing a thousand different tails. This situation is not surprising given that a hypothetical denial rate of just 5 percent translates to tens of thousands of denied claims per year for large hospitals—where real‐world denial rates often range from 12 to 22 percent. Read about how predictive modeling can detect meaningful correlations across claims denials data.
ZOLL and Emergency Mobile Health Care Case Study
Emergency Mobile Health Care (EMHC) was founded to be and remains an exclusively locally owned and operated emergency medical service organization; today EMHC serves a population of more than a million people in and around Memphis, answering 75,000 calls each year.
Maximizing Medicare Reimbursements White Paper
Since the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) introduction, CMS has paid more than $100 million in bonus payments to participants. However, these bonuses ended in 2015; providers who successfully meet the reporting requirements in 2016 will avoid the 2% negative payment adjustment in 2018, so now is the time to act! Included in this whitepaper are implications of increasing patient responsibility, collections best practices, and collections and internal control solutions.
Denials Deconstructed: Getting Your Claims Paid
Getting paid what your physician deserves—that’s the goal of every biller. Yet even for the best billers, achieving that success can be elusive when denials stand in the way of success, presenting challenges at every turn. Denials aren’t going away, but you can learn techniques to manage and even prevent them.Join practice management expert Elizabeth W. Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC, to: Discover methods to translate denial data into business intelligence to improve your bottom line, determine staff productivity benchmarks for billers, and recognize common mistakes in denial management.
Automation and Operational Improvement Drive Sustainable Results
Physician practices must improve organizational efficiency to compete in this era of reduced reimbursement and escalating administrative costs.
Revenue Cycle Management Resolves Migration Implementation Issues
Many healthcare organizations are pursuing next-generation health information systems solutions. Learn more about Navigant's work with University of Michigan Health System.
Partnering For Success – Provider Achieves Strength in Stability
The proper implementation of healthcare information technology systems is crucial to an organization’s financial health.