From facility check-in to check-out, patients fill out numerous forms and documents with their private information; many parts of this process are disjointed and spread across multiple departments. And though the healthcare accounting process is much more complex than matching credit card payments, there are some simple solutions that can provide an easy antidote for the common yet preventable challenges faced by healthcare accounting professionals. The industry is evolving and growing at an incredible pace as technology improves patient treatments in many areas, which means it’s time to do a thorough examination of the systems you’re using to conduct your financial close process.
Types of Healthcare Facilities:
Healthcare facilities exist to save lives, but to exist on such a large scale they also need to keep track of their finances in order to continue to function—whether they are for-profit or not. To keep the lights on, a facility’s finance and accounting team must be very diligent in how they protect and keep track of patient Protected Health Information (PHI) along with the payments from the patients themselves and their insurance providers. Unlike a traditional retail payment process, the receiver of a health service is usually not the final or even single payer; this adds a unique layer of complication to the transaction matching process.
Then, when a payment is received from either party, the financial matching is facilitated with data coming from disconnected systems, often from several different vendors due to mergers and acquisitions, that are not at all designed to effectively handle the Record to Report process from start to finish. In general, patient care organizations have many outdated technology platforms that lack integration between systems, create duplicate work and do not improve controls for this heavily-regulated industry.
Instead, payment processing and other related functions must be centralized through a system specifically created to manage your financial close, one that also integrates with your current ERP. Implementing an automated solution that understands the needs of the healthcare industry and directly connecting it to your current ERP’s data will create a single, dependable view of your organization’s financials across all entities, departments and more while keeping payments and supporting documentation protected. That visibility will come in handy if the facility scales up. As well, you can experience up to a 99% reduction in the time required to support your external auditors[CD1] as they review your financials and supporting documentation.
As mentioned previously, healthcare facilities vary in size and complexity, even from year to year. Mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry are rising, leading to more facilities existing as part of a larger system facilitated by a central office. New facilities bring more systems and ERPs that you must either replace or integrate with, leading to new headaches. Consequently, your existing systems are forced to deal with exponentially more patients than before, as well as their accompanying data and private information. While stored and managed in manual spreadsheets and disconnected databases, this data is not secure or easily matched.
Transitioning to a cloud-based solution with data encryption capabilities keeps data easily accessible as well as secure. Adhering to HIPAA regulations requires high levels of data encryption throughout an automated solution. Healthcare accounting solutions managed in the cloud are more easily monitored, updated and expanded as the healthcare system grows. As medical research improves, patients will have access to more healthcare services. Facilities that cannot keep up with changing methods will quickly see a reduction in their foot traffic after inevitable data breaches and exposure.
Understandably, keeping patients healthy and happy is a healthcare facility’s top priority. When developing their operating budget, facilities will allocate funds to departments along traditional healthcare definitions. However, systems can invest in doctors best when less time is spent educating patients on bills, as 40% of patients do not pay medical bills simply because they do not understand them. This is a statistic your office of finance can tackle right now.
Often, the default solution to this problem is to bring on more employees to explain billing practices. However, a more fitting resolution is to provide your team with an effective and efficient healthcare accounting solution. Your team already knows the facility practices, they just need a better system to keep both patients, doctors and (often) staff happy. An automated solution that ensures easy matching and reconciliation of patient payments will satisfy all involved.
Similar to your doctor advising you to follow good diet and exercise, a healthcare facility is only healthy when it has the right solutions available to facilitate all aspects of patient care. Healthcare is an ever-evolving field merging people, innovation and technology. A key focus of that innovation must be to improve the solutions supporting the financial close process and the healthcare accounting team itself, as it will benefit the entire healthcare system. Automating your Record to Report process is simply the best way to cure healthcare’s often disconnected and uncontrolled accounting processes.
To learn more about automating your financial transaction process, check out our solutions.
Written by: Chelsea Downey
 Mitchell, E. (2017, January 6). Types of Hospitals in the US. Retrieved June 12, 2018, EOSCU.
 Patient satisfaction and the revenue cycle: improving the billing process to generate ‘net promoters’ for your organization. (2015, August 18). Retrieved June 12, 2018, Becker’s Hospital