With an increasing number of patients with high deductible health plans, it is essential that ambulatory surgery centers leverage technology and automation to improve the patient financial experience.

According to a ResearchAndMarkets analysis, the ASC market could grow to reach $120.8 billion by 2026 at a 6.1 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). While advanced technologies have increased ASC’s scope of procedures and have driven market growth, there is also a great need in using technology to improve the patient financial experience.

High hospitalization costs are driving patients toward outpatient settings. As individuals with high-deductible plans, patients now have greater financial responsibility for their healthcare and will seek solutions that make the best financial sense.

If patients have a terrible financial experience with your ASC, it will be difficult to collect from them and they will go somewhere else next time they need care. Patient collections have moved beyond simply collecting patient co-payments and sending billing statements. Providers now need to maximize reimbursement not only from health insurers but from patients as well.

With increased risks associated with self-pay patient accounts, automation is becoming the new standard. The cost to collect could reach up to three times higher than on commercial insurance accounts. In addition, the longer a self-pay balance goes unpaid, the harder it is to collect it. Hence, automation can be beneficial by boosting collection efforts of past-due medical debts, decrease human error, maximize productivity, reduce costs, and streamline processes

Using Technology Before and During Service 

Many practices are implementing automated tools that can evaluate patient benefits and eligibility and produce an accurate time of service quotes. Having this information will better prepare front office staff and set proper expectations for the consumer. This type of technology implementation helps to streamline the time of service collections process while ensuring that patients arrive prepared with a full understanding of their responsibilities.

For example, using an automated eligibility verification tool enables ASC’s to verify critical insurance information automatically so that staff can focus on resolving those minimal instances that fall out of the automation system. ASC’s get two benefits from this tool: help with prioritizing staff workflow and preventing eligibility denials (which happens to be the largest cause of denials).

Using Technology for Post-Service: Billing and Collections

Nearly all 900 healthcare financial executives recently surveyed by HIMSS Analytics said their organizations still use paper-based billing and collection strategies. The same survey also revealed the following:

  • More than half of patients prefer electronic billing methods.
  • Patients were more likely to pay their medical bills if they had the option to do so online.

There is a great need for ASC’s and healthcare providers in general to transform their manual patient collection processes to address this changing, consumer-focused trend.

Underpayments could result in a 5% to 7% loss in net revenue. However, if technology is properly utilized, a net collection rate of 96% can be achieved.

Providers can use technology to automate daily payment updates and adjustments on self-pay accounts as this can provide meaningful data on a patient’s propensity to pay. The actionable insights that can be gleaned from this data can be very helpful in improving collection processes.

A positive or negative financial experience has an impact on the patient’s perception of care received and overall satisfaction. This experience can consequently affect collection rates and ultimately your surgery center’s bottom line.

By using technology in smart ways, your ASC can improve the patients’ financial experience and improve their cash flow. ASC’s need to continually look for ways to implement new technologies to promote accuracy and efficiency while positively impacting the patient experience.