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Mary Tackbary is vice president of new markets for Chamberlin Edmonds, an eligibility and enrollment services fi rm that works with hospitals and their patients to secure reimbursement for potential uncompensated care. For more information on Chamberlin Edmonds solutions: www.rsleads.com/006ht-201

actually may be eligible for coverage. Web-based functionality also improves the effi cacy of screening tools. Information used to assess patient eligibil- ity is most likely to be up- to-date, because changes in requirements and regulations across multiple programs can be tracked at the central

server site – rather than requiring individual software programs to be updated. In addition, Web access allows multiple users across the organization to make use of the screening date, particularly relevant should the patient be transferred from the ED to any in-patient department. Information contained within the product’s database can also be used for analytical purposes, giving staff the ability to monitor, track and report key metrics on patients and processes so that staff can focus on areas needing im- provement. Most eligibility software also has the ability to follow cases to resolution and optimize reimbursement. Facilitating the eligibility screening process is a win-win

situation for both hospitals and patients: When coverage can be secured for uninsured patients, the hospital plugs a fi nancial drain. Hospitals incorporating eligibility screening programs have reported the number of patients able to acquire coverage has doubled. This is even more fi nancially relevant when the newly eligible patient has outstanding medical bills, since certain programs, such as Medicaid, can be retroactively applied for up to three months. Patients benefi t as well, taking their coverage with them once enrolled. Not only is the care they receive in the ED covered, but coverage will follow them beyond the imme- diate encounter. This increases the odds that patients will get the follow-up care and routine check-ups they need, which diminishes the future burden on the ED. Hospitals will most likely continue to carry some bur- den of uninsured ED patients. To maintain quality of care, balanced with fi nancial sustainability, solutions should be sought to improve this situation. New technology can be intimidating, but proven eligibility-screening software so- lutions are user-friendly, and require only a computer and an Internet connection. Staff may not only save money, they may save time, which can be better spent on caring for patients.

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