Disparity Between Point-of-Service Collections and Back-End Recovery Rates

A lack of preparation on both the part of the patients and the hospital or health care system is a major challenge for point-of-service collections efforts, according to a poll by TransUnion Healthcare.

According to Milton Silva-Craig, executive vice president of TransUnion Healthcare, payment is traditionally collected “after the patient care cycle has been completed.” However, he noted a “drastic disparity” between payments collected prior to care and back-end recovery rates.

Nearly half of the respondents said that less than 15% of payments were collected prior to service. However, less than a third said the recovery rate was 15 and 30%.

A number of issues facing hospitals or health care systems that contribute to problems collecting at the point-of-service. The biggest challenge is determining what a patient owes — 37% of respondents — followed by preparing/training staff — 35% — and lack of real-time data — 26%.

Respondents thought that the biggest challenge for patients was that they are often unprepared to the make the payment at that time — 37%. A quarter of respondents also thought that patients are “uneducated on the option to pay at the time of service.”

"Hospital staff should communicate the patient's financial responsibility prior to service and registrars should be well trained and enabled to ask patients for payment in a way that doesn't compromise the care experience," Silva-Craig said in a statement.

A large amount of money is being lost, according to the respondents. The majority — 30% — lose between 3 and 5%, but 16% reported that they lose more than 7% of net revenue in 2010 to bad debt.

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