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6 Strategies for Lowering Bad-Debt Exposure

Jeff Elliott for HealthLeaders Media, September 7, 2010

Colorado's largest healthcare provider, Centura Health, instituted a thorough training program and progressive incentive structure for patient access staff in hopes of generating additional revenue through dedicated up-front collections. The organization has team of financial counselors completing insurance verifications and authorizations before a patient's scheduled procedure, reminding patients of any past-due balances they may have and determining the patient's portion of the bill due at time of service.

As a result of its strategic up-front collection efforts, Centura Health collects upwards of $1.5 million at the point of service, more than triple what it was receiving just two years ago.

Other healthcare organizations are taking an approach built around consumer finance collection tactics. As a result, tools to financially clear patients are becoming more sophisticated by enabling demographic verification and credit scoring during registration, which can assist providers in determining best way to collect payment or structure a lending arrangement with a patient.

Here are six point-of-service activities your organization should consider to help rectify self-pay balances and lower bad debt:

  1. Use front-end processes, such as collecting a portion of patient balances at the point of service.
  2. Screen uninsured patients for eligibility in government programs such as Medicare or Medicaid, or charity care assistance from the hospital. More and more companies are providing tools to organizations to accomplish this rapidly.
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