Learn how ASC technology can make the billing experience easier for your patients and staff.
Think about the last time you brought your car to the mechanic. While you may not have agreed with the amount of work they recommended or were worried they were trying to convince you to pay for some extra, not-truly-necessary services, they probably at least gave you a repair quote upfront. If they found another issue during repairs that should or needed to be fixed, they likely called you to tell you about it and explain how much the additional repair would cost.
When it comes to healthcare services, including procedures performed in ambulatory surgery centers, when patients schedule treatment, they are likely to find their providers are not as definitive as patients would like about how much they will need to pay for care. The result is that patients sometimes find themselves stuck with a bigger bill than they bargained for. Such situations spurred new legislation — the No Surprises Act — that went into effect at the beginning of this year.
Why is the billing situation so different for healthcare than it is for most other services? The short answer is that medical billing, including ASC billing, is complicated, in part because there are so many factors at play and costs can vary by insurer/payer, deductible, location, and other factors.
Fortunately for surgery centers, there is a way to make the billing experience easier for your patients and staff: ASC technology.
The Role of Technology in Improving ASC Billing and Collections
Leveraging ASC technology is vitally important to a surgery center's entire revenue cycle performance. Here are three of the most significant ways technology can make the ASC payment and billing process more manageable.
ASC technology helps improve patient experience and engagement
Patients are beginning to expect cost transparency in their medical and surgical services, much like they do for other non-healthcare services.
The good news is that electronic insurance eligibility verification can now provide this treatment payment information — or, at the very least, a valid estimate. Providing patients with estimates has been linked to an increased likelihood that patients will pay their bills on time and in full. In addition, price transparency may lead to higher patient satisfaction.
In addition, user-friendly patient engagement tools, such as patient portals and text messaging, are making it easier for ASCs to provide patients with estimates, remind patients to bring payments with them to the center on the day of their procedures or make payments in advance, and ultimately capture payments.
Interoperability boosts ASC billing speed and efficiency
Next let's look at two words taking on increased importance in healthcare and the ASC space: connected data. The more open and interoperable your system is, the easier it will be to quickly pull the information you need, when you need it, for whatever reason you need it. Data from other healthcare providers is often required if you want to effectively coordinate patient care and avoid duplication of tests and procedures already performed. You also need data from insurers when figuring out net revenue from patient visits.
There are lots of different kinds of data you might reference, and you need to be able to have a free exchange of information between key players throughout a patient’s care in order to make the process flow smoothly, which also impacts managing your revenue cycle.
You can learn more about the importance of ASC interoperability in this episode of the ASC Podcast with John Goehle, which features Lindsay Hanrahan, SIS vice president of product management, discussing this key surgery center technology concept.
Automation helps streamline everything about the ASC revenue cycle
There are many repetitive components of the ASC revenue cycle. Fortunately, technology can take some of these simple functions and tasks and automate them. Doing so will eliminate some or even all the manpower required to complete these responsibilities (which will be particularly helpful for those surgery centers struggling with staffing) while also helping to reduce human error. Tasks such as scheduling, benefits verification, and claims submission can now all be performed electronically and automatically.
Bringing ASC Revenue Cycle Performance Into the 21st Century
U.S. healthcare and medical expense policies date back to the 1920s, but that doesn't mean the processes behind them need to stay in the 20th century. More than a century later, technology is transforming how surgery centers complete their revenue cycle components and delivering significant improvements and benefits.