41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions every January and on average one third are able to maintain their resolution through March.
Are you a part of the 41%? As a healthcare facility leader, was one of your resolutions to get a handle on your aged account receivable? If you are like two thirds of Americans, the forward momentum of achieving that goal has stalled…or maybe never got started. There are complexities that contribute to not achieving AR resolution, such as the task being too monumental to conquer alone, needing additional expertise, scheduling limits or lack of qualified personnel, or just not having the tools necessary to correct downstream issues or poor payer performance.
It’s not too late to get your resolution back on track and address your aged AR, even if your AR looks worse today than it did in December.
Steps to Achieving Aged AR Reduction
- Make your goal specific. Instead of a goal stating “Achieve a 20% decrease in all aging buckets within the first 30 days,” be more specific such as, “Achieve a 1% reduction in aging per week on Medicare accounts aged over 90 days.”
- Share this goal with your team and allow them to own the solution. Ask what they believe caused the issue and listen to their suggestions on how to improve it. Post their ideas on the wall so the team can see them. Give visible credit to the people that made the suggestions. Ideas like that help create an environment of innovation and ownership with your team. As the team achieves the goals, everyone will remember whose ideas brought about resolution and employees will be more likely to take pride in their ability to help.
- Follow this meeting with quick weekly stand-up meetings to review the progress. Refrain from all or nothing thinking when addressing the team. Instead, celebrate positive results and continue giving credit where it is due. In the event there is no progress, ask the team to identify barriers that exist and advance these issues before the next week’s meetings. Don’t give up if you have a bad week. It is important to continue the creative process.
- Be patient as initial progress may be painfully slow, but once you achieve a break through it will be worth it. If progress slows, look to peers for assistance. Collaboration is useful for leveraging others experience against your own, and can result in ideas like quantifying all the Medicare denial reasons for the past 30 days then looking for the highest contributor. This type of analysis may identify a large number of coding denials, allowing you to have a conversation with your HIM Director to identify solutions to address the issues before they become a denial. You can achieve immediate positive results by reducing the number of accounts reaching 90 days old. This also allows staff to make more progress working the backlog as not as the number of new aged accounts is reduced.
- Share your goals and successes within your organization. Once your team reaches a milestone, like reducing Medicare aging by 8%, celebrate. Review what ideas helped achieve the goal and use these achieving the same goals in other payer categories.
- Finally, don’t be afraid to collaborate with an outside organization to assist you. The third-party experience, knowledge, and workforce usually results in quicker progress, increasing upfront cash, and providing sophisticated denial and root cause reporting. In leveraging this kind of collaboration, you can quickly bring your AR to a manageable level and pivot staff to address upfront issues ensuring the backlog of aging does not occur again.
I have found, through my years in managing the AR process, when using techniques such as these you can elicit positive buy-in from your team and ensure success in resolving your aged AR.
About the Author
VICE PRESIDENT - OUTPARTNERING™ CENTER FOR HEALTHCARE RESOURCE GROUP, INC.
Client care is the top priority for Jason Coffin, a Certified Revenue Cycle Expert (CRCE-1), CHFP. Jason oversees all operations of HRG’s OutPartnering™ Center located in Spokane Valley, Washington and is responsible for Central Business Office (CBO), Extended Business Office (EBO), self-pay and quality assurance services. He is focused on continuous improvement initiatives to ensure HRG remains the best choice for healthcare providers. Jason and his team provide outsourced revenue cycle services and support to hospitals and clinics throughout the country.