Staying Afloat during and after the Pandemic Keep a close eye on your revenue cycle BY ERIN PETRIE

While the COVID-19 pan- demic underscores the need for outpatient sur- gery to be available out- side the hospital setting,

ASCs across the country continue to grapple with revenue cycle challenges presented by pandemic-related slow- downs in case volume and reimburse- ment from payers. According to The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Outpatient Visits: A Rebound Emerges, a May 2020 report from The Commonwealth Fund, while the number of visits to ambulatory care practices plummeted by almost 60 percent early in the pan- demic, by summer 2020, centers were rebounding and ramping back up. As facilities continue to adjust to new expectations and requirements tied to the pandemic, they need to give immediate attention to improving their cash flow.

In our work with ASCs, we have found that to collect as much revenue as possible during this difficult time, making the revenue cycle more front- end driven can help. Giving patients the opportunity to pre-pay helps cen- ters control

their collection costs,

reduce exposure to bad debt and keep accounts receivable (AR) days under control. We recommend centers focus on two important areas: 1. Aging AR 2. Upfront collections We also recommend ASCs evalu-

ate all aging AR reports for completed cases, while maximizing upfront col- lections from patients for new cases. Two recent case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of these two strategies.

18 ASC FOCUS MAY 2021 |

East Hills Surgery Center, Greenvale, New York For East Hills Surgery Center, a focused approach on implementing rigorous processes for reviewing every single case resulted in significant reve- nue cycle management improvements. A strategic approach to upfront collections and financial counsel- ing—clearly explaining to patients the highest potential estimate before making any reductions—helped the center reach its cash collection goal. A dedicated team also focused on AR follow-up during the slowdown

caused by the pandemic. ■

Financial counseling accounted for 99 percent of upfront collections

in 2020, compared with 36 percent in 2019.

Percentage of due collected was 36 percent in 2020, up from 16 percent in 2019.

The center reached 149 percent of its cash goal, decreased its AR days over 90 and increased AR follow-up to 99 percent.

Glasgow Medical Center, Newark, Delaware

Glasgow Medical Center saw similar successes in aging AR and upfront col- lections. Most outstanding AR balances were in the patient self-pay category— a traditionally challenging category to collect—highlighting the importance of financial counseling and upfront col-

The advice and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent official Ambulatory Surgery Center Association policy or opinion.

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