Hospitals are under significant financial pressure. Collecting patient payments and recording them accurately in financial systems should not contribute to that stress. Unfortunately, it often does.
Payment reconciliation—the ability to identify the funding status of a particular patient payment and tie it to a corresponding bank deposit—often is a distress point in what easily can be a smooth process. Yet for most hospitals and health systems, reconciliation is done manually, creating a time consuming, error prone and, frankly, unnecessary effort.
Finance departments typically seek to close their accounts at the end of each month. They often ask revenue cycle managers for details related to patient payments. Since the payments may have occurred up to a month earlier, revenue cycle employees can get bogged down looking for the answers. Providers may utilize multiple payment systems and gateways, making the review process more complicated. In addition, multiple bank accounts and payment card acceptance providers—all of which close on payments at different times—compound the complexity.
Why do it manually when you can easily automate? Automating the reconciliation process can make things faster, easier, and more efficient.
Automated reconciliation applications enable revenue cycle employees to run reports that match up all the disparate data points into a single view of the patient receivables that have cleared. Automated reconciliation can take place on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis, reducing the “flash point” at the end of the month when reconciliation requests roll in.
At a minimum, an automated reconciliation service should enable revenue cycle managers to:
- Determine the funding status of any patient payment.
- Identify which payments are included in which bank deposit (for example a $50 patient payment that was accepted and included in a $10,0000 deposit to the bank).
- Identify any cancelled payments or ACH returns such as insufficient funds, invalid accounts, or chargebacks.
It’s important to integrate reconciliation services with your healthcare merchant services. In this way all patient payment sources—from payment portals to IVR and mobile payment applications—will be captured in the reporting.
Reconciliation of patient payments doesn’t have to be a monthly burden that takes valuable time away from your revenue cycle employees. With a well-designed automated reconciliation system, your organization can standardize its reconciliation processes, eliminate errors, and reduce write offs. This can help reduce human and financial stress as well.