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You are missing chances to collect more copays
'Missed opportunities' are costly
Several "missed opportunity" areas for copay collection are receiving close attention at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, CT, reports Margaret Trudel, patient access manager.
"We are now working closely on these areas," Trudel says. Here are process changes that were made in two areas:
Local obstetrics/gynecology offices now give preadmission packages to patients to be sent to the hospital, which allows access representatives to verify their insurance coverage and copay amount. Patients are sent a letter asking them to send in the copay prior to admission or be prepared to pay it upon admission, Trudel explains.
"This is brand new for us. Previously, no co-pays were collected, unless the patient offered it," she says. "We were not soliciting at all."
When the patient arrives, the access representative knows immediately if the copay was paid ahead of time, adds Trudel. "If the payment comes in through the cash office, they notify us. We have to provide them with a visit number," she says. "If patients do not have a visit number upon admission, we know we have not collected on them."
"We've been working on increasing collections for several years. Now, we are really focusing on it," says Trudel. "While collections have improved, they definitely could be better."
During the pre-registration process on the phone, access representatives ask for payment, says Trudel, and if patients decline to pay in advance, they are instructed to bring payment on the day of service.
"We also pursue deductibles," says Trudel. "If we aren't able to talk to the patient, we put the deductible amount on the face sheet, which is used for check-in. We solicit it when the patient arrives for surgery."
Because outpatient surgery is booked so far in advance, however, deductibles are a "moving target," says Trudel. "We are calling patients two weeks ahead. Who knows what service is taking place in that family between our conversation and their date of service?" (See related story on the hospital's bedside ED copay collection pilot below.)
For more information on improving copay collection, contact:
Margaret Trudel, Middlesex Hospital, Middletown, CT. Phone: (860) 358-6864. Fax: 860-358-6798. E-mail: Margaret_Trudel@midhosp.org.