It’s understandable, really. HIS systems were designed originally to marry the clinical and business data of hospitals, not necessarily to increase patient engagement or help get more payments in the door. With the HITECH act in 2010 and ICD-10 documentation in effect, documenting and creating charges is mostly straightforward. The nuances of collecting the revenue on those charges is what keeps CFOs up at night, the source of which is rapidly shifting from the payer to the patient.
According to this analysis, the average provider’s patient accounts receivable for insured patients is increasing while collections remain flat. Patient A/R has increased consistently since insured patients began switching to high deductible health plans (HDHPs) in the mid-2000s. Now, providers are facing incoming policy changes that could cost up to $1.7 trillion dollars in uncompensated care costs over the next decade.
Patient Billing Challenges in Epic
Patient billing and collection support is the functionality most often left out of or treated as an afterthought for “all-inclusive” HIS offerings, including Epic. While patient payments can be taken at point-of-service, or in the business office, it generally requires a couple of other vendors to make it work. Bill payments may be accepted through myChart, but adoption is generally low, especially when compared to a modern online billpay. Additionally, to serve a broad patient base, hospitals must offer multiple other payment channels, both digital and traditional.
In fact, most patients still choose to pay using traditional methods like checks, IVR, and payment plans, though the numbers shift to digital more every year. To offer each of these payment channels, providers often have to engage multiple vendors and must reconcile every payment from every channel for every location and post payments back to Resolute manually. Using multiple vendors may incur higher costs, and each requires a separate workflow to manage.
Leverage Your Epic Investment With the Right Payments Infrastructure
We’ve already covered that in order to offer your patients multiple payment options, you may have to engage multiple vendors. To compound the problem, many traditional payment processors do not build their solutions with Epic in mind because their infrastructure is designed for retail environments. If they are healthcare-specific, they generally only cover one or two payment options. If your hospital has multiple HIS and PM systems from acquisition or phased implementation, the challenges can multiply quickly.
The key then, is to utilize a healthcare-specific payments platform that is designed to complement Epic, offering all of the patient billing functions that Epic does not including the ability to connect to other systems outside of Epic. This could be features such as enterprise-wide statement printing, multiple payment channels, processing, automated consolidation and depositing of funds, as well as reconciliation and posting. Yes we’re biased, but we believe Patientco is the best 🙂
While each HIS system handles patient revenue cycle a little bit differently, they key is to support your investment with a suite of payments functionality that complements, rather than supplants, your existing HIS revenue cycle modules. After all, you’ve spent enough time and money on Epic. Shouldn’t you be getting the most out of it?