Hospital achieves $1.5 million increase

Pre-service collections for surgeries jump

During the first year of a three-year project to increase point-of-service (POS) collections at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, leaders set and reached a goal of increasing pre-service collections for scheduled outpatient and inpatient surgeries to $2 million, starting from a baseline of $500,000 a year.

Staff members increased the amount of deductible and coinsurance they asked for prior to service delivery, reports Mela Gant, director of patient access services.

"We used to ask for the deductible, plus $100," she says. "However, we did not tell the patient beforehand that we would be asking for any money at all. So they were unprepared to pay at the point of admission for surgery or an inpatient stay."

Admissions staff typically asked patients, "Would you like to pay that now, or would you prefer to be billed?"

"Most of the time, patients preferred to be billed," says Gant. "We are now asking for varying amounts, depending on the patient's insurance and the service being delivered, ranging from $300 to $600."

If the patient is not able to pay the full amount, staff members ask for half the amount, and if they are not able to pay that, staff members ask what they are able to pay today.

If patients state they are unable to pay, this statement opens up the conversation to the hospital's financial assistance program or the option to make payment arrangements after they receive their bill.

"We take a very soft approach if patients are uncomfortable or unable to pay," says Gant. "We start by asking for a lesser amount." Then, staff members give the patient options to contact the billing office after receiving the bill to discuss a payment plan or to inquire about the hospital's financial assistance program.