Is your medical accounting process healthy?
Health care organizations spend a substantial amount of time and effort to ensure that they have the right accounting practices in place.
Improper practices do not only make accounting processes more time-consuming and error-prone; they can also result in failure to meet the requirements of government and state agencies, which can have costly consequences.
As such, it is essential for medical organizations to make constant efforts to ensure that their accounting processes are effective and efficient.
As the owner, CEO or manager of a health care organization, you can take the following measures to improve your accounting processes.
Adopt a cost-accounting approach
The Affordable Care Act may eventually cause the insurance pool to expand substantially, leading to an increase in the number of health care patients.
Due to the trend towards accountable care, having more patients may no longer mean higher revenue for medical organizations.
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Both private and public payers are developing a wide range of at-risk payment structures, such as bundled payments, that require health care organizations to manage cost more carefully and competently.
An example of a health care provider that has tried to overcome this challenge is Mission Health, a five-hospital system located in North Carolina.
Mission Health has implemented a cost accounting system that accepts data from different clinical, supply chain and invoicing systems, and it shows how much it costs the hospitals to treat patients and how much they charge.
It can work in conjunction with other financial planning modules, including budgeting, contracts modeling and long-range forecasting.
Mission Health wants to develop a dashboard-accessible financial planning system that can help its hospitals set budgets, track performance and monitor cost drivers, and apply the data to proposed payer contracts.
Outsource accounting functions
Due to constantly changing requirements and regulations, it is important for medical organizations to use competent accountants who have a good understanding of the nuances of the health care field.
This can be especially difficult for smaller health care providers, many of whom are having trouble finding accounting professionals who have extensive industry knowledge.
By outsourcing their accounting functions, medical organizations can achieve a higher level of segregation and strengthen internal controls. Hiring outsourced accounting professionals can help them save a lot of time and effort, and manage growth more effectively.
According to an article entitled "Why Medical Accounting Should Be a Strategic Function, From the Top Down", health care providers who are planning to outsource their accounting tasks should make a point to select outsourced professionals who implement philosophies and tactics that are in line with their approach to billing and collection.
Use accounting software
There is a wide selection of accounting software tools available in the market, and these tools can be helpful to medical organizations in many ways.
They can help them integrate their data to improve the efficiency of their accounting processes, maintain high quality of care and reduce costs, as well as improve business intelligence and ensure compliance.
Medical accounting is now more complex than ever before.
Besides the above mentioned measures, there are many other things that health care providers can do to keep their accounting processes relevant and effective.
About the author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to health care.
NHS trials test that predicts sepsis 3 days in advance
A new test that can predict sepsis before the patient develops symptoms is being trialled at a National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the south of England.
Clinicians at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital are leading medical trials of the blood test, which they hope will help them save thousands of lives a year.
The test is being developed by government spin-out company Presymptom Health, but the research began over 10 years ago at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). This included a study of 4,385 patients and more than 70,000 samples, the largest study of its kind at the time.
From the samples taken, a clinical biobank and database were generated and then mined using machine learning to identify biomarker signatures that could predict the onset of sepsis. The researchers found they were able to provide an early warning of sepsis up to three days ahead of illness with an accuracy of up to 90%.
Unlike most other tests, Presymptom Health identifies the patient’s response to the disease as opposed to detecting the pathogen. This is an important differentiator, as sepsis occurs as a result of the patient's immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury, which can then cause life-threatening organ dysfunction.
Worldwide, an estimated 49 million people a year contract sepsis, while in the UK almost two million patients admitted to hospital each year are thought to be at risk of developing the condition. If Presymptom's test is effective, it could save billions of pounds globally and improve clinical outcomes for millions of sepsis patients.
The initial trials at Queen Alexandra Hospital will last 12 months, with two other sites planned to go live this summer. Up to 600 patients admitted to hospital with respiratory tract infections will be given the option to participate in the trial. The data collected will be independently assessed and used to refine and validate the test, which could be available for broader NHS use within two years.
If successful, this test could also identify sepsis arising from other infections before symptoms appear, which could potentially include future waves of COVID-19 and other pandemics.
Dr Roman Lukaszewski, the lead Dstl scientist behind the innovation, said: “It is incredible to see this test, which we had originally begun to develop to help service personnel survive injury and infection on the front line, is now being used for the wider UK population, including those fighting COVID-19.”