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ED copays rise to 47% with bedside collection
At Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, CT, members of the patient access staff have been collecting ED copays since 2004, reports Margaret Trudel, patient access manager, "but we continue to make adjustments to improve." Previously, about 12% of identified copays were collected at the hospital's main ED, Trudel says.
Patients were given a yellow copay sheet by the provider and told to stop on the way out and present the yellow sheet to the desk staff. This step was supposed to alert the access representative that a copay was due, Trudel explains.
The problem was that providers sometimes forgot to give the yellow copay form to the patient or didn't think it was important, Trudel explains. "Patients often just walked out. They were in and out so quickly and might not even know they needed to stop to pay," says Trudel. "Often, we couldn't identify whether it was a patient or a visitor walking out."
A bedside copay collection pilot is under way in the main hospital's ED Express Care unit with an access representative staffing the area 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. "Since we started the pilot, we have been able to collect about 47% of identified copays," Trudel says. "This is definitely a good first step." Of 1,026 Express Care patients seen in one month in 2011, 293 copays were identified, and 138 copays were collected, she reports.
If an ED patient is self-pay, the patient access representative asks them for $100, says Trudel. "We haven't had a lot of luck with that," she adds. "Those are usually the patients we are giving financial applications to."