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Frontload patient communications to boost collections, lower debt, CFO says

Goshen Health CFO Amy Floria told attendees at the HIMSS18 Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit they can cut bad debt by simply communicating with patients

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

LAS VEGAS -- Boosting patient satisfaction, POS collections and staff morale really boils down to when and how you communicate with patients about their obligations: The sooner the communication, the better was the message Goshen Health CFO Amy Floria delivered to the audience at the HIMSS18 Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit.

Goshen Health is a stand alone system in Goshen, Indiana with more than 20 locations the greater metro area. She cited data that showed 35 percent of households in the U.S. can't afford a 2500 deductible even though that's what they signed up for when they chose coverage. That led to more money being chalked up to bad debt.

When Floria dove deeper into her own system, she found multiple patient experience problems with revenue cycle, and focused in on their first interactions with patients and the beginning of their revenue cycle to gain efficiencies and stop a bad experience before it started.

In the end, their issues boiled down largely to patient communications and they made moves within the system to front load their revenue cycle efforts where patient communication was concerned.

"Five years ago we had no policy in determining which patients would qualify for financial assistance. We had everyone apply and just charged off bad debt when they didn't end qualifying and stuck the system with their bill."

To address upfront communications, Goshen redesigned their website, decided they would meet with every patient while they were in the facility to see if they have questions, and looked at the different options and payment plan arrangements they offered. They expanded those options, especially for those with high deductible health plans. Their patient loans now go up to five years and they now offer all their patient financial informational material in english and spanish to accommodate their hispanic community.

Goshen had been collecting about $2,500 a month before they made these changes three years ago. That increased to $240,000 a month in 2017, 7200 percent increase in average POS collections per month.

"We are able to help more patients who can't pay their bill instead of just charging them off to bad debt."

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