A New Way To Pay, A New Way To Save

Emdeon Patient Pay Online can help you join the online bill pay boom
Online bill payment is transitioning from a luxury to an indispensable tool that consumers appreciate, and in many cases, expect. This trend was confirmed by a 2008 survey conducted by CheckFree and Harris Interactive which found, "an estimated 63.1 million households or three-fourth of those online, are paying their bills online rather than writing paper checks."

The Harris Interactive survey also found a few more consumer tendencies that may surprise you.

Online bill payments continued to outpace check bill payments for the second consecutive year. Online bill payments made at both bank and biller websites rose to 42 percent of the total volume of household bill payments made each month, up from 39 percent in the 2007 survey. Online bill payment adoption has significantly grown since the 2002 survey, when only 14 percent reported paying their bills online.

Check payments among survey respondents who use the Internet fell to their lowest level in six years, accounting for only 31 percent of the total volume of household bill payments – down from the 34 percent recorded in the 2007 survey. Check bill payments have fallen by half on a percentage basis since January 2002, when Internet-connected Americans made 61 percent of their bill payments by check. Still, 59 million online households pay at least one of their household bills each month by check.

How could this benefit you? It's not a stretch to believe that some of these 61.3 million households have been in your office today, and some of them will require further billing and payment processes. These manual tasks take valuable staff time, slow-down your payment cycle, leave open the possibility of error and could result in lost revenue.

With Emdeon Patient Pay Online, however, these concerns are headed the way of carbon paper.

Comprehensive electronic billing and payment
Emdeon Patient Pay Online provides comprehensive and secure online billing and payment management. When added to your practice, this solution can yield faster collection of patient-owed amounts, improved cash flow and reduced billing costs with less effort and paperwork. Your patient billing can be current, accurate and accessible, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through electronic storage that puts your entire patient billing and payment history at your fingertips.

With Emdeon Patient Pay Online, your patients receive email updates linking them to a secure section of your existing website. From there they can easily view, manage and pay their accounts online. Patients also gain direct access to their account information allowing them to manage account preferences, update demographic information, email customer service staff with billing inquiries and access FAQs and other helpful information. By bringing billing and payment convenience to patients online, you can reduce support calls, increase billing data accuracy, reduce A/R days and lower collection costs.

To learn more about how Emdeon Patient Pay Online can help your healthcare business, contact us today at 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666) or visit us online at http://www.emdeon.com/ProviderSolutions/patient-pay-online/index.php.

Patients Growing into Consumer Role

Healthcare consumerism continues to take hold. Are you ready?
The business of healthcare is nothing if not a study of constant flux. From the simple employer-based programs that arrived after World War II, to the HMO era and beyond, how the cost of healthcare is covered has always been changing. For the past several years, the overwhelming movement in healthcare payment has been towards an increase in the burden patients must carry financially. As they pay more, patients are taking more control over who treats them and what they are willing to pay for those treatments. This consumer mindset has already begun to impact how providers across the industry interact with their patients.

The Patients become the Payers
Whether providers are ready or not, the consumerism trend has arrived in healthcare. Patients have been forced into a consumer role by rising costs and Consumer Driven Health Plans (CDHPs) that include higher deductibles and co-pays. In a 2006 Wall Street Journal article called "A Specter Stalks the Hospital Biz", Holman Jenkins discussed the hard numbers patients now face:

The HMO, yesteryear's solution to our healthcare dissatisfactions, held the consumer responsible for about 1.5% of their expenses out of pocket. The new dispensation relying on copays and deductibles is headed in the opposite direction, raising the consumer's share to 30% or more. At GM, a last holdout of the old third-party socialism, blue-collar workers pay roughly 7% of their health bills out of pocket, but soon will be in a boat comparable to GM's white-collar workers, who get dunned for 27%. Even Medicare and Medicaid are headed the same way, gradually, though they largely defeat the purpose by guaranteeing hospitals 70 cents on the dollar for copays and deductibles hospitals can't (or don't bother to) collect from the patient.

As this consumerism trend takes root and patients bear more of the burden, they have also become more educated about where they seek care. The Internet has allowed patients to apply their consumer skills to investigating doctors and hospitals like they would a dishwasher or home. Online diagnosis, research and customer feedback services allow patients to get a feel for a healthcare business before walking in the door. As a consequence, patient referrals are becoming more and more valuable in the modern healthcare market.

The Providers Adapt
One common theme hospital systems across the industry have is investing in new technologies. While this trend means providers are buying better diagnostic equipment to improve the delivery of care and put patients at ease, it also means providers are automating manual business processes which can result in lost revenue and an inefficient workflow.

As patients migrate from traditional and reliable insured categories to more financially risky self-pay categories, hospitals and private practices have felt much of the burden. Write-offs and uncollected revenue have quickly become primary concerns for CFOs and doctors alike. Automating key business processes can find otherwise missed payment opportunities from government and commercial payers. Automation can also reduce the errors and delays that hurt a provider's billing and payment cycle over and over.

Efficient and clear patient billing practices can save time while helping patients clearly understand the often-difficult financial details of their healthcare visit. These efforts have benefitted providers two-fold: by making their processes more efficient, and increasing the patient satisfaction that leads to valuable return visits and word-of-mouth referrals.

Working together
Consumerism in healthcare isn't creeping up on anyone; it's been a primary topic of conversation for years. What is surprising some, however, are the real world differences between the forward looking theories and the concrete arrival of patients who now act as consumers within the healthcare marketplace. The best way for providers to stay ahead of the curve is to have a sound plan that keeps your patients, your staff and your processes working together as much as possible.

Emdeon Commits to CAQH CORE Phase II Rules

Improving electronic administrative data exchanges
To demonstrate our commitment to improving administrative data exchanges, Emdeon has committed to complete a testing process by no later than the end of 2009 to certify that we can exchange electronic healthcare administrative data according to the CAQH Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange (CORE) new Phase II rules.

The voluntary business rules enhance interoperability between providers and payers; streamline eligibility, benefits and claim status transactions; and reduce the amount of time and resources providers dedicate to administrative functions. The Phase II rules cover requirements for electronic connectivity, patient identifiers, claim status and reporting of patient financial responsibility for an increased number of service codes included in the HIPAA standards. Phase II builds on the rules created by the initiative during its Phase I efforts, completed in 2006.

CAQH, a nonprofit alliance of health plans and trade associations working to streamline healthcare administration, launched CORE with the goal of enabling provider access to patient administrative information before or at the time of service using the electronic system of their choice. CORE rules are built upon existing standards, such as HIPAA. They are developed through a collaboration between more than 100 healthcare industry stakeholders as partners in a multi-phase rules development process. Participating health plans cover more than 130 million lives or more than 75 percent of the commercially insured plus Medicare and state-based Medicaid beneficiaries.

Emdeon joins more than 40 organizations that have committed to becoming Phase II rules certified or endorsing the rules.

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Emdeon Assistant Achieves HFMA Peer Review Designation

Industry experts honor Emdeon's automated patient eligibility and information verification solution
On June 23 it was announced that Emdeon Assistant, after intensive review, has earned the Peer Reviewed designation of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA). The HFMA Peer Review designation puts Emdeon Assistant in a short list of prestigious solutions that have been proven to be beneficial by industry expert volunteers and independent HFMA staff.

An automated solution
Emdeon Assistant automates key patient registration processes and delivers real-time eligibility and benefit verifications to save time while increasing revenue. Emdeon Assistant easily interfaces with most existing registration systems and channels efficient search requests to Emdeon contracted carriers with responses generally returned in seconds. By accessing a wide range of information from available payers and credit bureaus, Emdeon Assistant helps providers create a clear, non-discriminatory picture of a patient's ability to pay in an easy-to-read format.

Customers agree
Emdeon customer Carol Plato Nicosia of Martin Memorial Health Systems in Florida concurs with the HFMA Peer Reviewed findings. "Emdeon Assistant really helped us to automate our workflows and instantly retrieves critical patient registration information," Ms. Nicosia states. "Not only is this application easy to use, but it has also allowed us to become much more efficient within the patient registration process because it automatically populates our billing system with eligibility information."

Simplifying the Business of Healthcare
"We understand that consumer-directed healthcare and other trends in healthcare are putting pressures on the front end of the revenue cycle," said Philip Hardin, Executive Vice President of Emdeon Business Services. "We are working with the hospitals to provide them with the tools they need to identify insurance eligibility and benefits, the sources of funds and determine the patient's ability to pay self-pay balances prior to or at the point of care."

By simplifying patient registration and giving providers the ability to store, search and sort key points of information, Emdeon Assistant helps to reduce painful write-offs and the errors that can lead to them. Automatic verification of addresses and key demographic information helps providers maintain contact with patients after they leave the office.

To learn more about the HFMA Peer Review designation and what Emdeon Assistant can do for your healthcare business, call us today at 877.EMDEON.6 (877.363.3666), or visit us online.