Department expects $1 million increase

Anna Dapelo-Garcia, administrative director of patient access services at Stanford (CA) Hospitals and Clinics, anticipates point-of-service (POS) collections will increase by more than $1 million in 2012.

"As a tactic to accelerate cash, we began to focus on increasing POS payments through co-payments, deductibles, and residual/statement collections this past year," Dapelo-Garcia reports.

In addition to increased efforts for collections of co-payments and deductibles, staff collect residual balances at the POS and provide patients with a formal estimate of what their liability will be after all third party payers have settled. "For collections related to expected liability, we are working with an outside vendor to develop a patient liability estimator," says Dapelo-Garcia. "This will be based on our [Charge Description Master], our insurance contracts, and our historical average charges."

Staff members will give patients a printed estimate of what their liability will be after insurance and ask them how they would like to pay it, she explains. "Determining what a patients' cost is for a procedure or test before the fact has always been an exceedingly difficult and time-consuming process," Dapelo-Garcia says. "Being able to provide the patients with a formal estimate has significantly improved POS collections at several hospitals."

POS cash collections shorten the revenue cycle and decrease collection expenses and bad debt, adds Dapelo-Garcia. "Every POS collection has zero A/R days," she says. "If we wait to ask for payment, some of the patients who would have paid at POS may not pay when they are billed."