80 percent of hospitals and practices investing in IT to enable up-front collections

Consumerism having an impact on revenue cycle

By Mike Miliard
10:26 AM
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Although the vast majority of care providers believe collecting from patients up-front is critical, surprisingly few of them do so, according to a new report.

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With high-deductible health plans becoming much more common, 85 percent of providers acknowledge that the financial responsibility of patients is on the rise, and 90 percent say collecting that money on-site is important, according to "The Impact of Consumerism on Provider Revenues," a study published by Availity, which develops revenue cycle and patient access tools.

Despite this, less than 35 percent of patient-owed dollars are being collected up-front at physician practices, the research shows. Hospitals, meanwhile, report collecting just 19 percent of patient fees at or before the point of service.

"This study confirms that providers recognize the need to transform how and when they go about collecting patient fees," said Russ Thomas, Availity CEO, in a press statement announcing the report, which polled more than 300 physician practices and 200 hospitals. 

"One of the key insights is that the conversation with the patient has to start early – at or before the point of service – if providers are to reduce the amount of bad debt they’re currently experiencing."

More than 80 percent of respondents have made recent investments in software and staff to manage up-front patient collections, according to the report, and cite patient access tools for significantly improving both collections and cash flow.

Access the full report here.