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that work for them, but still meet the requirements of healthcare providers. Although self-pay money is the most diffi cult and ex- pensive money to collect, it is unreasonable for this added expense to be passed down to the physician. Today’s technology enables patients to make credit or debit pay- ments online and allows bill- ing offi ces to receive online insurance updates. Perhaps the biggest benefit is the

Scott Law is president and CEO, Zotec Partners. For more information on Zotec Partners solutions: www.rsleads.com/103ht-207

success in terms of communication. These tools can fully integrate with electronic billing software and open a dialog with everyone involved in a medical encounter. By getting everyone involved in the billing process, interac- tion is successful and no time is wasted.

In-house vs. outsourcing

Whether a practice decides to license medical

billing software, access it through an ASP (application service provider) model or outsource accounts receivable entirely, third-party billing solutions will help reduce labor, improve effi ciencies and increase revenue. If an administrator recognizes that he or she has the right staff to enhance the process, then licensing technology is an excellent solution. However, if an ad- ministrator is having diffi culty hiring good collections staff, then outsourcing accounts receivable may make the most sense.

Many healthcare executives have made the choice to outsource so they can focus on their primary goal of providing their services and treating patients without get- ting distracted by automated billing systems. However, today’s technology gives providers complete control and access to their data by making it accessible online. Choosing to keep billing in-house due to economics or

staffi ng requires technology to help provide an effective and effi cient billing system. Modern software can speed up the process and utilize fewer employees while still getting the same amount of work completed. Staffi ng costs can be reduced by 20 to 40 percent.

Necessary technology in today’s economic environment Patient portals

The increasing popularity of healthcare savings ac- counts (HSAs) and other high-deductible plans is being

www.healthmgttech.com

felt in the medical billing business. As more consumers become responsible for a larger portion of their bills, it is essential to provide patients with easy access to make payments. A customized secure (SSL) Web page that is accessible via a provider’s Web site allows a more effi cient communication stream between patients and the billing function. Patient portals improve access, eliminate labor and proactively communicate with patients. They allow patients to review their accounts, update their demographic/profi le information and make payments online.

Financial decision support systems Robust reporting modules enable healthcare executives to dig deep into their system information and effectively data mine, drill down, chart and analyze data in a robust and meaningful way. Financial decision support systems can include analysis cubes, rep- resenting best practices for viewing and digesting informa- tion. In addition, some offer a

“wizard” capability, allowing individual users to create their own cubes, analyses and reports. Decision support systems provide access to information that enables us- ers to proactively manage their businesses, rather than reacting to outdated reporting materials.

Outbound dialers

As more consumers become responsible for a larger portion of their medical expenses, it is essential to pro- vide your patients with easy access to make payments. Automated phone technology can make multiple auto- mated and customized phone calls to patients, allowing them to obtain balance information, update insurance in- formation and make payments without needing to speak to a live attendant. All phone calls are recorded and are attached to the patient account. A patient receiving an automated call can be connected to an account specialist to take his or her HSA payment or to set up a payment plan. All automated phone calls have customized messag- ing depending on the severity of the outstanding account and client-specifi c direction. Executed correctly, these technology advancements are powerful tools to help practices handle billing and record maintenance in an electronic format. Regardless of in-house or outsourcing, modern billing solutions are intended to help clients use the technology and software to meet their specifi c needs and improve patient care while minimizing denials.

HMT HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY March 2011 9

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