Improve Your Revenue Cycle – Patients Need More Financial Flexibility

Healthcare providers have long faced revenue cycle challenges and they have become increasingly difficult as patients have had to shoulder more financial responsibility for their care.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have intensified and have increased the need for providers to make much-needed improvements in their revenue cycle due to financial loss from suspended procedures.

The pandemic has certainly affected the finances of many patients. Thus, providers may need to work on ways to accommodate patients who may need more financial flexibility in the coming months.

According to a recent CNBC survey of 800 people, one-fourth of Americans have either lost their job or taken a pay cut. That means more than 30 percent of Americans may be at risk of losing coverage under employer insurance plans.

The pandemic has also exacerbated other problems that were already apparent across health systems. Number one on that list has been a poor digital experience.

The healthcare industry is vastly underserved by current technologies that everyday consumers find in other industries such as the retail sector.

A 2019 Survata survey revealed the following:

  • Half of consumers said they were frustrated about their provider’s lack of adoption of digital processes, such as online bill pay, mobile and email bill delivery, access to insurance information, and digital pre-appointment forms
  • 41% of patients said they would stop going to their provider over a poor digital experience.
  • 1 in 5 patients have already stopped or switched providers over a poor digital experience.

As lockdowns and physical distancing measures were imposed, the long-overdue digital transformation in the healthcare landscape became essential to thrive.

Here are areas where your healthcare facility can really transform and improve its revenue cycle:

1. Communication

Whether answering a phone call about a billing question or providing a price estimate, patient communication has a huge impact on the overall patient experience and a facility’s bottom line.

Consumers use digital tools to facilitate nearly every aspect of their lives. A true multichannel approach utilizes a variety of integrated communication channels like text, email, online portal, phone, or social media for appointment reminders, billing, and other service-related communications. This makes it easier to respond quickly to patients and allows providers to cut costs from reduced printing and postage expenses from traditional mailed statements.

Improving patient communication is also not just about using digital tools. When your communications are based on patient preferences and actual engagement behaviors, the patient experience elevates, and financial performance improves.

Effective patient communications go beyond just a discussion of what the patient owes. Providers need to act more as a partner and patient advocate in patient financial discussions and handle conversations in a compassionate manner.

Patients may need to be educated about the different components of their financial responsibility, financing options, and applying for Medicaid government programs. With an estimated 4 million elective surgeries canceled in the US at the height of the pandemic, there is a tremendous backlog awaiting rescheduling and many of these patients are self-pay.

Helping patients pay by removing language barriers and communicating in their native tongue can provide an outstanding patient experience resulting in a much more efficient revenue cycle and better collections outcome.

Therefore, Mnet has added over 200 languages to its call center capability to help providers improve patient communication.

2. Technology

In response to COVID-19, healthcare facilities have been focusing on facilitating limited-touch workflows and contactless processes.

Healthcare organizations have turned to various technology solutions to improve their revenue cycle processes.

This includes using current technologies like online patient portals for performing patient registrations including copay collection prior to patients’ scheduled visits. Contactless registration also allows patients to check-in online and then proceed directly to the patient care room.

Contactless payment solutions like text-to-pay (SMS payments) have been on the rise even before Covid-19, but healthcare providers and patients now see them as essential.

Technology solutions help healthcare providers streamline manual processes and offer a more consumer-oriented approach to revenue cycle management from registration through billing and payment. One East Coast provider has found that people receiving a text notification paid their balance 12 days faster.

However, patients need more than just an online bill pay option. They need a variety of other financial services such as contact-free payment plans and financing. Patients want healthcare organizations to offer transparently priced care, payment plans, and a simple billing and payment process.

Mnet’s SMS platform is designed to deliver all patient financial services — everything from payment in full to pay-plans and financing all neatly offered in a text experience.

3. Staffing & Personnel

Technology alone can make a big difference, but it cannot replace the human element of revenue cycle management.

Revenue cycle leaders must be prepared to have the right staffing level to accommodate changes brought about by the pandemic. If they are not prepared, they’re going to be either understaffed or overstaffed.

Post-lockdown, some healthcare facilities like surgery centers are seeing a higher case volume and a huge backlog of cases. Providers find themselves doing more surgery from the backlog with fewer staff members.

COVID-19 safety protocols are also creating some operational changes which may contribute more to an increasing backlog.

Therefore, healthcare organizations need to be able to manage through the volatility and can quickly scale up or scale down.

Particularly in billing and collections where time is crucial, engaging and working with people on a human level takes time, training, resources, and plenty of energy. Therefore, providers need to ensure they have dedicated staff handling billing and collections.

Having a partner focus on patient payments can free up limited staff to focus on providing quality care and building case volume.

Mnet is ready to field inbound calls from patients pertaining to payment or process, long-term or temporarily, using remote call center technology and Patient Financial Advocates. Mnet’s remote assistance is designed to offer a seamless transition for ASC’s with either limited commitment or long-term commitment if that is more advantageous.


About Mnet Health

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy to navigate financial experience in healthcare.

Mnet Health is the premier revenue cycle management and technology provider in the surgical industry. We provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. As of 2020, Mnet Health partners with over 700 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor of both United Surgical Partners International (USPI) and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) – both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices. Mnet’s custom brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay.

Have a question? Contact Us Now


Understanding The Difference Between 1st Party and 3rd Party Patient Collections

As the patient has become the third-largest payer in the country; balance after insurance has skyrocketed. Providers need to rethink their strategies to improve patient collections and save costs as receiving patient payments on time can be challenging.

Many providers have found outsourcing revenue cycle management (RCM) to be valuable in improving their patient collections and revenues. When outsourcing your RCM, you need to know the key differences between first- and third-party patient collection services.

Technically, first-party collections refer to in-house debt collection and third-party collections refer to outsourced collection agencies. First-party agencies are often subsidiaries of the provider where the debt is owed to; while third-party agencies are separate companies contracted by the provider to collect debts on their behalf.

However, when it comes to accounts receivable services, “first-party” and “third-party” may mean something somewhat different. It has less to do with who’s handling the process, and more to do with the stage of the process.

Hence, first-party patient collections can be handled by a separate company. End-to-end revenue cycle management companies like Mnet Health also handle both first-party and third-party collection services.

If your company is looking for a streamlined approach to patient collections, you can enlist the help of an end-to-end revenue cycle management company to handle both first-party and third-party receivables management.

Here are key differences between these stages in patient collections:

First-Party Collections (Early-Out / Early Stages)

Current first-party collections for healthcare revenue cycle management is often referred to as “early-out” as it happens early on in accounts receivable management. This early stage is for slightly past-due accounts that aren’t quite ready for full collection.

During this stage, providers send out reminders to patients about their balance due. They might also offer to enroll them in payment plans or offer financing.

First-party management is about trying to prevent a loss, so early intervention is crucial. Contacting self-pay patients at an early stage increases the likelihood that a patient can be informed of their financial options and start making payments on their balance.

At this stage, any first-party collection partner your facility engages with will act on your behalf, using your company name and working to uphold your relationship with your clients.

Here are key points in the first-party collections / early-out stage:

  • A range of activities are performed at this stage:
    • Billing
    • Insurance claim follow-up
    • Patient reminder calls or text
    • Contacting patients shortly after the due date
    • Dunning letters
    • Outbound and inbound calls
    • Payment plan monitoring
    • Facilities payment plans and financing
  • Any communication or reminder messages will be branded with the provider’s name and adhere to the provider’s communication standards. All communication with the customer appears to come directly from the provider, even if a separate company is handling it.
  • First-party collections work like an extension of your back-end operations or billing office.
  • First-party collections typically reach out to patients starting at the generation of the first bill or up to 90 days afterward.
  • Focused on customer service and agents are trained to be more engaging and sensitive to patients’ financial situations.

If patients have negative experiences with first-party early-out or collections vendors, it may influence not only their financial experiences, but it will shape their overall experience with providers, regardless of the quality of care received.

If patient balance remains unpaid despite all first-party collection efforts, they are escalated to the third-party collections stage.

Third-Party Collections (Late Stage)

Patient balances that remain unpaid are subject to being written off as bad debt. In order to collect accounts that are written off, providers enlist third-party collections or bad debt recovery services.

Third-party collections happen later in the debt collection process. Most often, dealing with patients which have gone cold. In these cases, patients may have skipped town or don’t answer calls, emails may bounce back, and paper reminders may be mailed back to you.

  • Once the account has moved to third-party accounts receivables services, the provider’s name will no longer be used. The third-party is still acting on behalf of the provider, but the communications are now coming directly from a separate company.
  • Third-party collections are subject to the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) and are more regulated than first-party
  • Other tactics can now be used to locate the debtor and bring the account up-to-date, aiming to instill a sense of urgency in the debtor
  • Third-party collections are about liquidating the total balance written off
  • Doing well in third-party collections means recovering debt at the same time not losing patient loyalty

 End-to-End Revenue Cycle Management with Mnet Health

By offering end-to-end revenue cycle management (RCM), Mnet Health helps providers the whole way through from first-party to third-party collections. Mnet has a true end-to-end patient revenue cycle that elegantly transitions from first-party to third-party, seamlessly integrating both services to provide a comprehensive, customized program for your collections.

Working together with a partner offering both first-party and third-party collections can benefit both you and your patients. It allows Mnet to become familiar with the accounts in receivables right from the beginning and can customize approaches to give your patients an integrated experience, resulting in a higher percentage of accounts being settled during the early stages.

  • Increase your monthly patient collections by 40-100%
  • Dramatically reduce your bad debt write-offs
  • Get happier patients (better financial experience)
  • Never have to deal with patient collections again

You still decide which accounts go to bad debt. Once you decide, accounts move from the first-party call center to our bad debt collections service.

From first-party collections to third party recovery, Mnet’s revenue cycle management solutions help you increase your revenue, lower the days in your account receivable, and create outstanding patient financial experiences.

 

First Party


  • Calls are made/answered as provider’s billing office
  • Letters are in provider’s name
  • Payment processing
    • All payments accepted from patients are in the providers name
  • Online bill pay is provided to patients
  • No credit reporting

Third Party


  • Calls are made/answered as a debt collector attempting to collect a debt
  • Letters are from the collection agency representing the provider
  • All payments are processed through the collection agency
  • Online bill pay is through the collection agency website
  • Credit reporting is an option


How Surgery Centers Can Navigate Post-Lockdown Staffing Issues

Staffing during the pandemic has been a key concern, but post-lockdown staffing has its own challenges as well.

Post-lockdown, surgery centers are seeing a higher case volume and a huge backlog of cases. Some staff members are taking a vacation because it is summer and that also poses its own staffing challenge. ASCs find themselves doing more surgery from the backlog with fewer staff members.

According to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers, it may take between seven to 16 months for surgeons to complete the backlog of elective orthopedic surgeries that have been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 safety protocols are also creating some operational changes which may contribute more to an increasing backlog. As non-emergency surgeries slowly start to pick up, it won’t be as simple as flipping a switch to operate surgical facilities to what they were pre-pandemic.

For ASCs, particularly, top staffing challenges include:

  • Bringing staff back from furlough

This means determining who to bring back and who is more likely to return to work. Some staff may want to stay on reduced hours to spend more time with their children; others don't feel safe returning to work due to high risks of contracting the virus. Some even opt to resign to minimize risk to their family.

  • Staff exposure to COVID-19 infection

If one staff member gets exposed to coronavirus and infects others and they all must self-isolate, the resulting staffing shortages could force the practice to revert to urgent procedures only. If some staff are required to self-quarantine, it needs the rest of the team or additional staff to step up to take on additional cases.

  • Recruitment challenges

Recruiting talent during this period may prove difficult and come at a higher cost than budgeted. Due to the increased demand for qualified talent, salaries are likely to be appreciably higher than those prior to the pandemic. Finding talented staff members willing and able to work flexible hours during ramp-up periods may also be more difficult than expected.

ASCs need to become creative with staffing during this period. Given the volatile nature of the pandemic, staffing could end up being a challenge day to day. The disruptions due to Covid-19 provide an opportunity to rethink many aspects of a surgical facility’s operations.

To avoid a haphazard ramp-up and address the large surgical backlog, it is important to adopt strategies that are safe, ethically sound, and operationally efficient. Here are some key points and suggestions to consider:

  • Giving more hours to per diem staff who are requesting more due to the lack of work during the pandemic.
  • Consider the possibility of instituting extended hours of operation (evenings and weekends). Extending existing block schedules for example from eight to ten hours and opening up all hours on the weekend when ORs are typically not running elective cases.
  • Even with the increased case volumes, some facilities choose to operate at 90 percent volume to strategically prepare for possible exposure. This way, even if a staff member self-quarantines because of a known exposure, the facility won’t be short-staffed.
  • Allot more space for clinical use during caseload ramp-up periods to capture the volume of cases available to your center.
  • Build larger patient care areas to respond to new safety needs by outsourcing business office functions such as revenue cycle management or patient billing services.
  • Outsourcing revenue cycle management allows you to access experienced staff for your patient billing needs. Consider utilizing remote Patient Financial Advocates and remote Call Center to focus on patient payments while your facility focuses on scheduling cases.
  • Utilize more of available patient billing solutions and technologies. This will enable processes to be streamlined and reduce the amount of direct patient contacts (paperless registration processes, text billing, online patient portals, integrated scheduling, and other improved billing procedures.)

It’s important that surgery centers not just go back to normal, but also to try to reinvent their facility to be better than they were prior to COVID-19.

How Mnet Can Help

Mnet works with the medical community as they strive to stabilize the healthcare system while keeping the lines of communication open with the patients. Mnet fully understands the breadth of the situation facing the surgical industry and stands ready to help.

Having a partner focus on patient payments can free up limited staff to focus on providing quality care and building case volume.

Mnet is ready to field inbound calls from patients pertaining to payment or process, long-term or temporarily, using remote call center technology and Patient Financial Advocates. Mnet’s remote assistance is designed to offer a seamless transition for ASC’s with either limited commitment or long-term commitment if that is more advantageous. The main goal of Mnet is to help loyal clients preserve the integrity of the industry during this extremely challenging time.


About Mnet Health

Mnet Health is the premier revenue cycle management and technology provider in the surgical industry. We provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. As of 2020, Mnet Health partners with over 700 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor of both United Surgical Partners International (USPI) and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) – both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices. Mnet’s custom brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay.

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy to navigate financial experience in healthcare.

Have a question? Contact Us Now


With 4-Million Surgeries to be Rescheduled, Mnet Speaks Your Language

Mnet adds critical interpretation services for over 200 languages to its call center capability, as caseload increase becomes the new normal for surgical centers.

ALISO VIEJO, CALIFORNIA, August 12, 2020 — Mnet Health (‘Mnet’), the leader in surgical revenue cycle management has announced the addition of over 200 languages to its call center capability in order to help patients pay.

Mnet has always had multilingual customer service agents. But with the addition of critical interpretation services of over 200 languages to its call center capability, Mnet is now better able to deliver its benchmark of significantly increasing monthly self-pay collections by as much as 40-100% while creating an outstanding financial experience for patients than ever before.

Since the onset of the current pandemic, patients are now preferring their surgeries be done at ASCs rather than hospitals so that they don’t need to stay overnight. Third-party payers are also increasingly directing surgical cases toward outpatient facilities due to lower infection risk, improved efficiency, and reduced costs.
With an estimated 4 million elective surgeries canceled in the US at the height of the pandemic, there is a tremendous backlog awaiting rescheduling and many of these patients are self-pay.

Helping patients pay by removing language barriers and communicating in their native tongue can provide an outstanding patient experience resulting in a more efficient revenue cycle and better collections outcome. “We’ve learned that patients are better able to resolve their medical bills when everything is explained in their native tongue, and thus have a better experience,” says David Hamilton, CEO of Mnet Health.

Mnet specializes in concierge patient financial services for patients needing surgery. Mnet’s call center interpreters are experienced and well-trained in translating for medical patients over the phone, ensuring that facts — including those relating to financial responsibility — are rightfully translated to the patient.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 67 million U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home. In America’s five largest cities, 48 percent of residents now speak a language other than English at home. The top languages with more than a million speakers in the US include Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Arabic, French, and Korean.

Using its suite of payment solutions, Mnet has helped millions of patients pay their medical bills. Over the years, Mnet has been known for “helping patients pay” with over $1 billion in managed patient balances. This is why well over 700 surgical facilities across the United States have partnered with Mnet Health to handle their patient revenue cycle.

Communicating with patients in their primary language helps build a trusting relationship with their surgical centers as it shows that providers are respectful of their diverse patient population.

About Mnet Health

Mnet Health is the premier revenue cycle management and technology provider in the surgical industry. We provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. As of 2020, Mnet Health partners with over 700 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor of both United Surgical Partners International (USPI) and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) – both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices. Mnet’s custom brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay.

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy to navigate financial experience in healthcare.

To read the original press release on PRweb, click here.


Remote Call Centers Make Sense

Remote Call Centers Make Sense Now More Than Ever

While no one could have truly predicted the path of destruction that the Coronavirus pandemic has leveled on the health and economy of the entire world; Mnet has continued to be committed to working alongside the medical community as they strive to stabilize the healthcare system while keeping the lines of communication open with the patients. Mnet fully understands the breadth of the situation facing the healthcare industry and stands ready to help.

Mnet is at the ready to field inbound calls from patients pertaining to payment or process, long-term or temporarily, using remote call center technology and Patient Financial Advocates. Mnet’s remote assistance is designed to offer a seamless transition for ASC’s with either limited commitment or long-term commitment if that is more advantageous. The main goal of Mnet is to help loyal clients preserve the integrity of the industry during this extremely challenging time.

This strategy works by allowing Mnet Patient Financial Advocates to access ASC patient accounting systems and for ASC’s to forward inbound patient balance calls to the Mnet remote contact center. Mnet has Patient Financial Advocate teams dedicated to each ASC and each team is 100% US-based, multilingual staff. Call transfer is seamless, and the IVR gives patients all the self-help tools they have come to expect.

Mnet’s support teams are available 8 am - 8 pm central and weekends and average a 9 second hold time.  Patients are assisted by highly trained Patient Financial Advocates and can answer any billing questions, offer payment or payment plan options, and accept CareCredit payment from the patients. Patient Financial Advocates can help patients get through the application process and can offer patients practical suggestions throughout the pandemic such as how to apply for unemployment, where to find specialized assistance, and much more.

Contact us today to find out how Mnet can help your ASC.


About Mnet Health

Mnet Health is the premier revenue cycle management and technology provider in the surgical industry. We provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. As of 2020, Mnet Health partners with over 700 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor of both United Surgical Partners International (USPI) and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) – both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices. Mnet’s custom brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay.

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy to navigate financial experience in healthcare.

Have a question? Contact Us Now


The New Normal

It’s the New Normal - Reinvent Your Surgery Center

ASCs and surgical facilities were already facing a variety of challenges brought about by increased patient financial responsibility and by a changing reimbursement landscape, but COVID-19 has either brought new challenges or magnified existing ones.

The challenges brought about by the pandemic have caused surgery centers to accelerate needed changes to improve different areas in their revenue cycle operations.

For surgery centers, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could linger long after the crisis is contained. Here are 3 ways to reinvent your facility to come out from this downturn:

1. Staffing
Several surgery centers have laid off and furloughed staff to offset financial losses from elective case bans in March. Now that elective surgeries are ramping back up again, surgery centers will have to grapple with having sufficient staff with the surge of elective cases which were put off.

Staffing can represent 40 percent of an ASC's budget, so centers should plan staffing well, by identifying who would likely return to work and when to bring back such furloughed staff.

A couple of challenges have surfaced due to COVID-19:

• Recruiting talent during this transitional period may prove difficult and come at a higher cost than budgeted.
• Staff may be reluctant to come back from furlough
• Finding talented staff members willing and able to work flexible hours during your ramp-up period may be more difficult than expected.
• Due to the increased demand for qualified talent, salaries are likely to be appreciably higher than those prior to the -pandemic.

Here’s some things your surgical facility can do:

• Maintain communication channels with furloughed staff and keep them informed about your center's ability to recruit them back and steps your center is taking to protect staff.
• Consider having some staff float among locations, take on new tasks, or simply work part-time until full-time options become available.
• Formally screen staff when they are asked to take on new responsibilities and be transparent about additional requirements.
• Outsourcing revenue cycle management allows you to access experienced staff for your patient billing needs.

2. Patient Payments
According to a recent CNBC survey, one-fourth of Americans have either lost their job or taken a pay cut. That means more than 30 percent of Americans may be at risk of losing coverage under employer insurance plans.
During these times, helping patients pay and choose the best and most convenient path for them is key to boosting collections.

Here’s some things your ASC can do:

• Provide payment plans with zero interest and financing options for low-income or uninsured patients with higher out-of-pocket responsibilities.
• Offer contactless solutions to communicate with patients and collect payments like text-to-pay and online patient portals.
• Consider getting trained patient financial advocates to walk patients through their financial options including sensible payment plans, responsible funding options, and compliant charity care programs.

3. Operations and Patient Care Areas
Patients also now prefer surgery to be done at ASCs so that they don’t need to go into the hospital to stay overnight. Patients are seeking safer locations for their surgical care, which is pushing them away from hospitals and toward ASCs.

With an estimated 4 million elective surgeries cancelled in the US during the height of the pandemic, there is a large backlog awaiting rescheduling, which is also forcing a delay in scheduling new procedures.

Third-party payers are also increasingly directing surgical cases toward outpatient facilities due to lower infection risk, improved efficiency, and reduced costs.

Hence, surgery center’s caseloads are expected to transform quickly from low to high volume. The caseload increase is becoming the new normal for ASCs.

Here’s some things your facility can do:

• Consider the possibility of instituting extended hours of operation (evenings and weekends)
• Allot more space for clinical use during caseload ramp-up periods to capture the volume of cases available to your center.
• Build larger patient care areas to respond to new safety needs by outsourcing business office functions such as revenue cycle management or patient billing services.

In all these 3 key areas, an experienced surgical RCM company could be really helpful as an extension of your business office and help your surgery center focus on providing excellent care.


About Mnet Health

Mnet Health is the premier revenue cycle management and technology provider in the surgical industry. We provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. As of 2020, Mnet Health partners with over 700 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor of both United Surgical Partners International (USPI) and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) – both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices. Mnet’s custom brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay.

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy to navigate financial experience in healthcare.

Have a question? Contact Us Now


Medical Bills Are Confusing - Patients Need Financial Advocates

Patient financial responsibility is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down. As medical debt continues to be a growing problem in the United States, many Americans are experiencing financial instability.

In fact, more than 137 million Americans were burdened by medical debt between 2015 and 2017.

However, it’s not just purely financial reasons that people don’t pay their medical bills. A McKinsey study found that 74 percent of insured consumers are both able and willing to pay their out-of-pocket medical expenses, up to $1,000 per year.

Patients Are Confused with Medical Bills

Patients are often confused and frustrated when they get multiple bills for the same medical procedure. Many patients don’t understand the reason that one visit can be split up into multiple bills.

In the surgical industry, this would often mean separate bills from the surgeon, the lab, the anesthesiologist, and the surgical facility. Higher-than-expected charges, unclear statements, and bills arriving months late create a perfect storm for poor patient financial experience.

The media is full of stories of patients experiencing uncertainty, confusion, and even anger concerning medical bills and healthcare costs.

According to InstaMed’s Trends in Healthcare Payments 2019 Report:

  • 70% of consumers are confused by their medical bill
  • 91% of consumers were surprised by a medical bill in 2019
  • Millennials and Gen X are 28% more likely than Baby Boomers to consider switching a healthcare provider for a better payment experience

Medical bills often become much bigger than patients expect since most healthcare providers do not share prices (or even estimates) before the surgical procedure or visit.

When patients have been in surgery with a full care team or have done several follow-up tests, medical bills often arrive separately. When this happens, patients become confused about what they owe and why. They may also believe they’re being double-billed, so they don’t know where to start paying and they either delay payments or don’t make them at all.

One of the most common reasons patients stall paying their medical bills is because they aren’t confident that their balance is accurate or owed by them. This is especially true in the surgical industry.

Why? Because in surgery there are so many moving parts. The patient receives several different bills related to one surgical episode that patients aren’t exactly sure how the providers and their health insurance company have sorted everything out.

If patients are confused and are not confident about their medical bill, they might just not pay in the hopes of either buying time or having their healthcare facility discover some error especially when patients receive a bill that is higher than their expectation.

A study by West Corporation revealed several reasons why patients delay medical payments or don’t pay at all:

  • 42 percent of patients delay medical payments due to high deductibles
  • 30 percent of patients cited "confusion about how much insurance will cover what patients owe"
  • 30 percent cited "receiving bills for services patients don't think they should have to pay for"
  • 25 percent of patients cited "waiting to receive the final bill so they are sure of the amount owed"
  • 11 percent of patients cited "uncertainty about what payment method to use"

Patient Financial Advocates Can Make A Difference

In order to create a better financial experience, what all patients need is just a little bit of help. A patient financial advocate can address all the issues mentioned previously.

This is why Mnet offers providers Patient Financial Advocates as part of our patient billing solutions.

We’ve learned! Before we offer financing — before we offer a payment plan — before we offer a payment portal — we offer to explain their balance!  Patients will be much more likely to pay this way.

Patient Financial Advocates are a huge key to our success in our mission to helping patients pay their medical bills.

Patient financial advocates “educate” patients on what they owe for treatment and why they owe this amount whether in advance of receiving care (providing an estimate) or even aftercare. They answer patients’ questions and help patients cover their financial responsibility, including offering payment plans and financing options to cover surgical costs.

Working with patients based on their actual needs will help create a positive financial relationship with them, thereby increasing patient loyalty and boosting collections performance.

Learn more about Mnet’s Patient Financial Advocates.

Our Patient Financial Advocates (PFA’s) can help your patient understand their insurance benefits and their medical bill. Our PFA’s are uniquely trained to walk patients through their financial options including sensible payment plans, responsible funding options, and compliant charity care programs. We work until late in the evenings and on weekends, so a friendly and helpful multilingual agent is always available to be of assistance.

  • A seamless extension of your billing office
  • Agents support your approved payment plan & financing offerings
  • Available nights and weekends (8 am – 8 pm CST)
  • Agents can access billing history to explain the out of pocket balance

    About Mnet Health

    Mnet Health is the premier revenue cycle management and technology provider in the surgical industry. We provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers. As of 2020, Mnet Health partners with over 700 surgical facilities nationwide and is the preferred vendor of both United Surgical Partners International (USPI) and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) – both directly with and in support of centralized billing offices. Mnet’s custom brand, PaySUITE, is a white-labeled payment technology platform that helps surgical facilities and their providers grow their business by helping patients pay.

    We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy to navigate financial experience in healthcare.

    Have a question? Contact Us Now


Patient Payments Spike in June Amid Covid-19 Crisis, says Mnet Health

Total patient payments performed at a much greater rate (+1.6%) than the pre-coronavirus months of June as more patients paid in full, made larger payments and established payment plans.

ALISO VIEJO, CALIFORNIA, JULY 7, 2020 — Mnet Health (‘Mnet’), the leading end-to-end payment solutions and patient billing services provider for the surgical industry, reports that it saw an increase in total patient payment by 1.6% compared to the period prior to Covid-19.

Despite the coronavirus crisis, more patients either paid in full, made larger payments, or established payment plans:

  • Payment in full increased by 2.0%
  • Payment size increased by 3.3%
  • Payment plans established increased by 13.3%

The current pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of people’s lives and consumer spending is no exception. The way patients seek out and pay for care is changing dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown measures and infection risks have restricted what consumers can spend money on. With restaurants and shops being shut and air travel being suspended, spending is generally down across many, if not all, industries.

Consumers became less inclined to spend more on non-essentials. Many expect their household income to continue to fall in the coming months as 1.5 million Americans filed new unemployment claims for the week ending June 13.

Last year, nearly one-quarter of Americans reported having unpaid or past-due medical bills. Millions are now facing some tough choices like determining which bills to pay and which to put off.  But why the increase in patient payments during the pandemic? Here’s what Mnet discovered:

More patients staying at home and easier to contact

Mnet’s patient contact percentages went up by 44.6%. Due to people staying at home more even after lockdown restrictions were eased, they were far more available and easier to be reached.

This trend is in line with patients increasingly using telehealth and online shopping. Even as local officials lift restrictions, many people are still wary and plan to wait longer before resuming their old routines.

Patients have more time to devote to resolving their balance

Oftentimes in order to resolve a balance, the patient and Mnet would need to communicate with the insurance company. This process typically takes extra time and hasn’t always been easy to accomplish with patient’s busy schedules and the limited time to make contact with insurance companies.

However, during the pandemic, Mnet’s length of time on the phone with patients increased by 5.6%. This means longer and more meaningful conversations with patients which also led to more payment in full and more payment plans established.

With the pandemic, patients have had more time to sit down and review their finances. According to the latest TransUnion Financial Hardship Report, 60% of consumers plan to reach out to the companies that manage their accounts to discuss payment plans.

Patients are concerned with keeping their account in good standing to protect their credit

Consumers are changing their behavior as they spend less on vacationing and eating out. Instead, they are using their money to pay down debt and keep their credit lines open.

A recent survey by Money Done Right and Google Consumer Surveys showed that 43 percent of Americans plan to use their stimulus money to pay off debt. The CARES Act provided stimulus checks of $1,200 to individuals with annual income below $75,000 and $2,400 to married couples filing taxes jointly who earn under $150,000.

A recent Harris Poll also found that nearly one-half of Americans (48%) are concerned the virus-induced recession would impact their credit score.

During these uncertain times, more patients wanted to pay in full or establish a payment plan. Patients from all financial classes expressed that they wanted to pay their provider as well as protect their credit.

Patients want to express gratitude to medical providers

Those on the frontlines in the healthcare system are working tirelessly to take care of their local community. Some healthcare workers in certain states do not even receive extra hazard or crisis pay for working during the pandemic.

Patients have made it clear that they are showing their gratitude for hard-working medical professional heroes by paying their financial responsibility in a timely fashion. Mnet has received more thanks and appreciation for the medical staff who attended them in calls with patients.

Overall, patient-pay performed at a much greater rate than the pre-coronavirus months of June. The pandemic has put the healthcare industry in the spotlight and has caused patients to rethink their financial situation in these unprecedented times.

With its mission to help patients pay, Mnet will continue to track patient payment performances closely.

How healthcare providers help patients pay during this time of crisis will have a lasting impact on their business and the communities in the future.

About Mnet Health

Mnet is a revenue cycle service & technology provider partnering with the surgical industry to provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and management companies. As of 2020, Mnet is serving over 700 surgical facilities nationwide both directly and in support of centralized billing offices. Mnet’s brand, PaySUITE, is a platform of payment technologies that helps providers improve the patient financial experience while boosting collections performance.

We believe every patient deserves a helpful, transparent, easy to navigate financial experience in healthcare.

To read the original press release on PRweb, click here.


Mnet Health Leads Contactless Payment Solution for the Surgical Industry

Text-to-pay experience meets consumer’s expectations for contactless payments amidst the new normal.

ALISO VIEJO, CALIFORNIA — JUNE 18, 2020 — Mnet Health, the leading end-to-end payment solutions, and patient billing services provider in the surgical industry, has announced its innovative contactless payment solution as part of its mission to help patients pay.

Contactless payment solutions like text-to-pay (SMS payments) have been on the rise even before Covid-19, but surgical facilities and patients now see them as essential. The current pandemic has spurred the demand for contactless solutions as patients worry about the health risks associated with handling cash and using shared devices like EMV terminals. Even after social distancing restrictions lift, experts predict contactless payments will be here to stay.

Consumers are now becoming increasingly wary of traditional modes of payment like swiping a credit card and using keypads or touchscreen surfaces that are being used by the public.

Many surgery centers across the U.S. have resumed elective surgeries, and the need to make their processes as contactless as possible have logically come to the fore. Contactless payments like text-to-pay can be made anytime, anywhere, and do not require a point‐of‐sale (POS) terminal.

Health risks are not the only thing that patients are worried about. The unemployment situation due to Covid-19 has also affected the finances of many patients. Thus, surgery centers need to work on ways to accommodate patients who may need more financial flexibility in the coming months.

Patients need more than just an online bill pay option. They need a variety of other financial services such as contact-free payment plans and financing. The most efficient approach for contactless payment is through SMS as 97% of Americans use their mobile phone’s texting feature at least once a day (Pew Research Center).

Mnet’s SMS platform is designed to deliver all patient financial services — everything from payment in full to pay-plans and financing all neatly offered in a text experience. Enabling text-to-pay experiences helps consumers feel in control over their finances and creates a better patient experience.

Text billing and payments are convenient and instantaneous. It’s a win-win for both surgery centers and patients. With a text billing solution, surgical facilities eliminate much of the collection process and get a more cost-effective alternative to paper billing. Providers will be able to send a secure link that allows their patients to pay, eliminating both security and contamination risks.

For patients, adopting effective, contactless billing and payment options will keep them safe, engaged, and informed. “For some time now, we’ve seen that patients are ready to take their payment options to a mobile experience. But, the Covid-19 pandemic has made doing so even more essential,” says David Hamilton, CEO of Mnet Health.

Over the years, Mnet has been known for “helping patients pay” with over $1 billion in managed patient balances.

With well over 700 surgical facilities across the U.S. using its payment solutions, Mnet has helped millions of patients pay their medical bills. Surgical facilities leverage Mnet Health’s suite of patient financial services, enabling them to treat more patients who otherwise may not have been able to afford services.

Mnet Health services many of the most recognizable and largest ambulatory surgery center chains in the country such as United Surgical Partners International and Surgical Care Affiliates.

Finding innovative ways to communicate with patients and help them pay has now become a top priority for many surgery facilities. To withstand the pandemic and ensure future growth, many providers are now making use of the latest contactless payment solutions with Mnet as their partner for success.

About Mnet Health

Mnet is a revenue cycle service & technology provider partnering with the surgical industry to provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and management companies.  As of 2020, Mnet is serving over 700 surgical facilities nationwide both directly and in support of centralized billing offices.  Mnet’s brand, PaySUITE, is a platform of payment technologies that helps providers improve the patient financial experience while boosting collections performance.


Learn More About SMS Messaging

Download our PDF, “Why You Should Add SMS Messaging For Patient Engagement”

Download PDF

Click here to read press release on PRweb.com


3 Things for ASCs to Consider When Ramping Up Case Volumes

As the COVID-19 pandemic curve shrinks in many states, elective surgeries are also ramping up in surgery centers.  Some patients, however, might still be reluctant to go into medical facilities because of the risks of COVID-19. On the other hand, patients may be eyeing ASC’s which have largely been isolated from COVID-19 cases. 

According to a recent Spherix Global survey, specialists believe the COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting effect on their practices. The survey of 265 dermatologists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, neurologists and rheumatologists revealed the following:

  • Nearly 50 percent expect it will take at least 4 months for patient volumes to return to somewhat normal
  • Seventy-eight percent said the pandemic will have a lasting effect on practice operations

Many surgery administrators believe that patients will feel more comfortable coming to an ASC over a hospital, so they are preparing for an increase in cases going forward. Here are 3 essential things to consider as you ramp up your case volumes:

1. Prepare for a Surge in Demand for Elective Surgeries 

In a post-epidemic world, the new normal will see an increase of cases in an outpatient setting as patients find it a more cost effective and safer environment. Hospitals will still be dealing with COVID-19 for quite some time so ASC’s will offer an alternative for performing cases.

ASC’s typically treat healthier patients with fewer simultaneous health issues and the ASC setting is potentially safer and cleaner for patients than hospitals. Hence, surgery centers need to start preparing for the coming influx of patients demanding elective surgeries. 

Here are what some facilities are doing to prepare for increased demand: 

  • Expand block times during the week and adding weekends
  • Implement increased COVID-19 screening practices and special precautions for infection control
  • Educate patients on the inherent benefits of the outpatient space
  • Adjusting the timing of surgeries so patients are sufficiently spaced out in pre- and post-op areas 

2. COVID-19 Transforms Patient Needs and Their Ability to Pay for Healthcare

The unemployment situation due to COVID-19 certainly affected the finances of many patients. ASC’s need to work on ways to accommodate patients who may need more financial flexibility in the coming months. 

According to a recent CNBC survey of 800 people, one-fourth of Americans have either lost their job or taken a pay cut, and an additional 9 percent expect to find themselves in that same situation. That means more than 30 percent of Americans may be at risk of losing coverage under employer insurance plans. 

Some patients may delay elective surgeries indefinitely or forgo them altogether if forced to pay out-of-pocket.

Here’s what your facility could do to respond to this situation:

  • Reevaluate your uninsured discount policy, charity care, and sliding fee scale
  • Ensure all patients know of financial assistance options through better patient financial education and communication
  • Implement patient-friendly billing options
  • Partner with institutions to offer additional ways for patients to pay, including zero-interest payment plans
  • Sufficiently train staff about financial assistance policies and patient financial responsibility
  • Have Patient Financial Advocates who are ready to answer patient’s questions

3. Grappling with Staffing-Related Problems Post-Pandemic

In the wake of the healthcare crisis, several surgery centers were laying off or furloughing employees to offset financial losses from elective surgery bans. Some ASC’s were unable to guarantee unemployed workers would get their jobs back. 

However as elective surgeries have resumed, surgery centers need to ensure they are sufficiently staffed for the increased volume of patients whose elective cases were put off.

When prospective patients were at home without much to do, many were able to do more research online, look at cost estimation tools, calculate payments, etc. This resulted in increased demand for price transparency, payment plans, and other patient-friendly medical billing options. Some facilities have found that calls related to financial assistance spiked during this crisis.

Here are some things your ASC can do to offset this situation:

  • Consider utilizing remote Patient Financial Advocates and remote Call Center
  • Focus on scheduling cases while remote call center reps focus on payments
  • Utilize more of available patient billing solutions and technologies. This will enable processes to be streamlined and reduce the amount of direct patient contacts (paperless registration processes, text billing, online patient portals, integrated scheduling, and other improved billing procedures.)

 


About Mnet Health

Mnet is the leading RCM & technology provider to the surgical industry delivering white glove patient-pay solutions. Mnet specializes in surgical hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and management companies.  As of 2020, Mnet is servicing more than 700 surgical facilities nationwide, both directly and in support of centralized billing offices.  Mnet’s patient-pay solutions significantly increase self-pay collections while creating a better financial experience for patients.

 

 


Do Your Patients Know It’s Safe to Schedule Surgery Again?

As restrictions start to lift in some states, surgeries and other procedures that were halted when the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S. are now being resumed. As hospitals and surgery centers embrace the new normal with the risk of coronavirus omnipresent, many patients are eager to reschedule "elective" operations that were delayed because of the lockdowns.

As of May 1, approximately 20 states have resumed elective surgeries. More are planning to do so in the coming weeks. The term elective can be a bit deceiving because these procedures are medically necessary. The elective part is that surgeons and patients choose when and where they will do them.

When these elective surgeries were on hold, patients with medically necessary and painful conditions -- orthopedic, neurological, and cancer-related -- were forced to wait in pain. Now, the time has come to focus on those surgeries that are time-sensitive and can no longer wait. Imagine the life of a patient who’s been waiting for that knee or hip replacement or spine surgery.

Is It Safe?

Critics are questioning whether hospitals are too quick to allow elective procedures. Many potential patients are understandably worried about visiting hospitals due to the risk of the COVID-19 infection.

Hospitals across the US, however, have been reassuring patients that they have expanded and added safety procedures. Adding that once in an operating room, it's one of the safest places to be. Because of these added precautions, one doctor remarked that emergency departments are safer than most stores and other public areas.

What Steps Are You Taking to Keep Patients Safe?

Hospitals and surgery centers vary in their practices to protect patients and their staff. As an example, some facilities are now extending the hours of operating rooms way beyond normal and running through weekends to reduce the swelling backlog of “elective” surgeries.

You can refer to the joint statement by the American Hospital Association and many medical specialties such as the American College of Surgeons outlining a roadmap for resuming elective surgery for a list of principles and considerations for your facility.

The CMS and also the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) have released recommendations when re-opening healthcare facilities. Here are some of them:

  • Establishing Non-COVID Care (NCC) zones that would screen all patients for symptoms of COVID-19. Staff would be screened routinely as would others who would work in the facility (e.g. housekeeping, delivery, etc.)
  • Testing all elective outpatient surgical and non-urgent procedural patients for COVID-19 three days prior to their scheduled appointments
  • Ensuring more than 30 percent vacancy is available in all staffed beds and 30 percent in Intensive Care Unit beds.
  • Ensuring the hospital has more than a seven-day supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical-surgical supplies on hand.
  • Facility considerations, including social distancing in waiting areas and maintaining lower patient volumes. Following waiting room spacing guidelines, social distancing, face masking, etc.
  • Sanitation protocols, including an established plan for thorough cleansing and disinfection prior to using spaces.

How Are You Communicating With Patients?

A facility should make it clear to patients that they are not being forgotten and that your center is working on plans to get them the care that they need.

Putting in place an omnichannel communications strategy would be a key advantage when ramping up surgeries again whether it be for orthopedics, general surgery, eye surgeries, or even dental surgeries. With the use of integrated multiple communication channels, some facilities are hearing daily from patients who have had elective procedures delayed because of COVID-19.

Mnet Cares

While the patient experience begins with the facility; Mnet also continues the “patient-friendly” experience through to the point of helping patients pay for their procedures.

We’re all in this together. Mnet is deeply committed to working with hospitals and surgery centers to stabilize productivity and keep patient communications open and available. We understand the drastic situation facing the industry – and we’re here to help.

Has the time come for you to resume elective surgeries? If yes, then you will need to focus on cases as soon as possible.

Having a partner that focuses on patient payments can free up staff to focus on building case volume.  We can help you:

  • Open your doors sooner with an already fully functioning patient pay department
  • Focus on scheduling cases while our remote call center reps focus on payments
  • Maintain extended business office hours going forward
  • Avoid out-of-pocket expenses for as long as possible with performance-based fees

Call 866.648.4677 or email contact@mnethealth.com today to see how Mnet Health is helping patients pay.


Improving Patient Communication for Better Healthcare

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, it has had a negative effect on our health, well-being, and the economy. Not only that, but it has also accelerated a transformation in virtually every industry from education to the world of healthcare.

The last few weeks have shown that we can change, and we can do it quickly. If businesses were able to move hundreds of thousands of employees from offices to work from home, then surely the healthcare industry can figure out how best to communicate with patients.

As the pandemic hastens the digitalization of work in every sector, now is the time to ask and listen to what patients want, and then find a way to give it to them.

Patients are confused and want to go digital

According to InstaMed's Trends in Healthcare Payments Ninth Annual Report: 2018, healthcare’s number one blind spot is the consumer experience. The data from their report reveals a lot of what the current experience is:

  • 70% of patients are confused by medical bills
  • 71% of patients are confused by Explanation of Benefits (EOBs)

Though we are now living in a digital age, much of healthcare’s communications to consumers are still only available via paper. This disconnect is most prevalent in statements to consumers, that is through mailed paper statements - the same method used half a century ago. Even the content and layout of those statements have not changed much. According to the same report:

  • 90% of providers leverage paper and manual processes for collection
  • 41% of providers haven't changed their patient statement in more than five years
  • Only 17% of patients receive medical bills electronically

This is in sharp contrast to what patients actually want:

  • 71% of patients want e-Statements from their providers
  • 81% of patients want an online estimation tool for provider visits
  • 86% of patients want to make all their healthcare payments in one place (online portals)

Much of the patient confusion comes from a general lack of communication between healthcare providers and patients. While patients want to talk about money for their healthcare, they are not usually aware of their responsibility until much later in their healthcare journey.

As other industries set higher standards for consumer expectations, the healthcare industry has a lot to catch up in making that digital connection with patients in terms of communication.

Consumers (aka patients in healthcare) have many choices on how they communicate

Today, consumers have tons of choices as to how they communicate with people and companies. These communication channels include mail, email, text messaging, website, phone, social media (Twitter, Instagram, Messenger, Snapchat, etc.), messaging apps like WhatsApp, and more. Consumers also want to be able to interact via the channels they prefer, whenever they choose — and that can change from time to time-based on their situation, changes in the communications marketplace and personal needs at any given time.

Adopting an omnichannel approach to patient communication with Mnet Health

Mnet can address the concerns mentioned through its omnichannel approach. With the use of technology, Mnet makes it easy for patients to select all the ways we can contact them. With an omnichannel approach, we can give patients consistent interactions among all channels and create a seamless experience personalized to every patient. All our communication methods are available to patients and are inter-connected.

The main difference between multi-channel and the omnichannel approach is the coordination and integration between channels.


Looking towards the future, healthcare organizations will increasingly establish their competitive advantage based on their ability to provide exceptional customer experiences. Those which can create an integrated, seamless and personalized experience to their patients will be poised to win patient loyalty

 


Medical Practice Reopening: Three Tips to Help the Process While Keeping Costs Down

With stay at home orders expiring and governors choosing to partially open their states, medical practices and the surgical industry will be back up and running very soon.  Georgia has already opened their state as of April 24. Some states, including Texas and Indiana, have quarantine orders that expire on April 30. For other States, like hard-hit New York, the current date for reopening appears to be May 15th.

A comprehensive list of state reopening dates can be found at (https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/493717-heres-when-all-50-states-plan-to-reopen-after-coronavirus-restrictions). So, clearly then, the good news is that it appears that for most states, we are just days away from reopening; rather than weeks or even months.  But, for some centers, getting back to the business of caring for people will bring a new set of challenges.

Here are three scenarios many centers are likely to face and some ideas to help overcome them:

  1. Rehiring/Recalling Staff: Some centers may have difficulties in bringing back the entire staff due to lost revenue or other new challenges.

Recommendation: Bring back as much staff as possible to get cases in the door and outsource business office functions until cashflow resumes.

  1. Reestablishing Patient Communications: If your center has been closed or had limited hours, make sure your patients know you are open for business again.

Recommendation: While preparing for cases, use on-hand staff to schedule and make use of remote call center representatives to restart your revenue stream by calling on patient balances.

  1. Staying Compliant: Remote workers have been a primary target for hackers. Be conscious of the very real threat and don’t leave gaps in your compliance measures when going through the process of reopening your practice-this could cost you and your patients.

Recommendation: Be certain that vendors calling your patients have secure access to your patient accounting system and security measures to both assist your patients and protect your business.

Has the time come for you to open practice doors again? Mnet can help you open sooner with less staff so you can start up vital revenue streams again. Mnet is patient-friendly and charges no upfront fees; so, call Mnet today to discuss strategies to help patients pay.


Surgical Industry – Steps You’ll Want to Take Now for When the Doors Open Again

For good reason, COVID-19 has forced most of the surgical industry into emergency mode with facilities seeing reduced hours or temporary closings altogether.  The last few weeks have rightly been a time of reaction but what happens when centers and hospitals resume business as usual and it’s time to “act” again?

At this point, there is no crystal ball to tell when the world will be back to work but putting an industry, and country, back in motion will obviously take a lot of time and effort.  Waiting to do this all at once would likely tax your staff, your patients, and stretch finances even further.

There are resources available that may help you continue to react practically now while also preparing to move quickly when the doors are again open for business.

Surgical facilities need to account for the following:

  • Is your facility closed or working limited hours with limited staff?
  • Is someone answering patient calls and helping maintain vital incoming revenue?
  • If remote, is your team able to efficiently maintain compliance standards?
  • Are you protecting your patient relationships?

Some centers are managing to tackle all the above items.  Others have struggled due to limited staff, technology hurdles, and communication concerns.

Fortunately, the same “short term” solution today can also make getting back to work easier when the time comes.  Consider a remote call center solution.

Help now

  • Keep the business office open for the duration and provide night & weekend availability.
  • Comfort patients who are still receiving statements with a live, knowledgeable rep who can answer questions and take payments.
  • Remote call center service providers have had to account for compliance and technology requirements long before the entire nation did overnight.
  • Maintain payment arrangements: Don’t let a balance and a lack of communication keep a patient from ever coming back.
  • Contingency based price structure ensures no additional cost.

Help when the doors open and beyond

When we do resume business again, centers will need to focus on cases as soon as possible.  At the same time, having a focus on patient payments can free up limited staff to keep building case volume.

  • Open your doors sooner with an already fully functioning patient pay department
  • Centers reopening can focus on scheduling cases while remote call center reps focus on payments
  • Maintain extended business office hours going forward
  • Stretch start-up dollars: Avoid out-of-pocket expenses for as long as possible with performance-based fees

If your doors are closed and you want to look at options for both the now and what comes next, we can help. Call 866.648.4677 today to see how Mnet Health is helping patients pay.

 


Mnet Health Provides Immediate Remote Patient Financial Advocates for Surgical Industry

Mnet Health announced today their commitment to helping the medical community stabilize productivity and keep the lines of communication between medical facility and patient open through their remote Patient Financial Advocates and their Remote Call Center.

Considering the current Coronavirus pandemic, Mnet Health has acted to ensure its deep commitment to the medical community in their efforts to stabilize productivity and keep patient communications open and available. Due to a long-standing relationship with the industry, Mnet Health understands the drastic situation that healthcare facilities are facing at this moment and is offering its assistance.

Mnet Health is ready, willing and able to field inbound patient payment calls, even on a temporary basis, using its Remote Call Center technology and Patient Financial Advocates. Mnet has tailored its remote assistance to be a seamless transition for a facility with limited commitment.

The main goal is to help loyal clients and to preserve the integrity of the surgical industry. “This is no time for providers to let their patients go to voicemail," says David Hamilton, CEO of Mnet Health. "Patients need to be reassured that they’re not going to be sent to collections and that providers are going to work with them.”

How the Remote Call Center Works

Mnet Patient Financial Advocates remotely access the facility’s patient accounting system while the facility forwards inbound patient balance calls to Mnet’s remote call center. Some of the features of the Mnet Health Remote Call Center include having dedicated teams of Patient Financial Advocates for each facility.

These Patient Financial Advocates are all based in the United States and are multilingual. Call transfers are handled seamlessly, and patients are greeted by and IVR which also provides patients with abilities to self-service if that is their preference. Support for the Remote Call Center is open from 8 am to 8 pm CST as well as weekends with an average hold time of just nine seconds.

Patients are assisted by highly knowledgeable and well-trained Patient Financial Advocates. They are ready to answer any billing questions that might come up. They are ready to offer payment or pay-plan options including the ability to transact CareCredit as a method of payment.

Finally, Patient Financial Advocates are available to help patients through the application process. They are also ready to help patients with practical suggestions during the crisis such as how to apply for unemployment, where to go to find assistance and much more. “If patients don’t get answers from a helpful person, they are likely to read articles on the Internet they don't understand and that frightens them," says Lauren Illescas, Mnet VP of Operations. "They worry about their credit, and assume the worst; so this is a time to be more available. When you are, you build patient loyalty.”

About Mnet Health

Mnet is a revenue cycle service & technology provider partnering with the surgical industry to provide custom patient-pay solutions to surgical hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and management companies.  As of 2020, Mnet is serving over 700 surgical facilities nationwide both directly and in support of centralized billing offices.  Mnet’s brand, PaySUITE, is a platform of payment technologies that helps providers improve the patient financial experience while boosting collections performance.

View this press release on PRWeb: Click here

 


Coronavirus Sets the Stage for Hack Attack

The Coronavirus has undoubtedly changed the world; in its impact on the daily lives of billions across the globe; the ways people are able to socialize in a world of social distancing; the health and healthcare of everyone across the planet; and even the giant impact for the global economy.  But another threat looms; as these changes we are now seeing globally have fostered an environment in which scam artists, spammers, and hackers have free rein.

Phishing scams pertaining to coronavirus started making the rounds in January and have only grown since by playing on the fear of a deadly new plague.  One hospital in the Czech Republic had a ransomware attack recently that not only disrupted the day to day of the hospital but even resulted in the postponements of necessary surgeries.  Even more sophisticated hackers have been using the pandemic to trick the unwary into spreading their nasty malware.  All of this, because the world situation has left many open to all kinds of cyberattacks.

With more people working from home than ever before, there are more dangers because there are much fewer defenses on home networks than one would have in their corporate offices.  Even in situations where small crews are still working out of offices, distractions can come up, leaving vulnerable periods during such times of distractedness or even in periods of anxiety; and the most seasoned professionals can fall for malicious attacks.

Attacks like the one on the hospital in the Czech Republic pose a clear threat to the health of patients at that specific hospital but also appear to be even more reprehensible in a time of a health crisis that is currently testing the boundaries of the worldwide healthcare system.  Phishing and scamming websites are now appearing all over the Internet with reports of up to thousands of new domains being listed each day.

Even the intelligence agencies of other nations are poised to take advantage of the current global situation.  With everything going on, it’s easy to be distracted and this sense of distraction on a global scale has created a window for such attacks to be a bit more aggressive than they would have been in the past; so it stands to reason that the unscrupulous would take advantage of such an environment.

Though the Internet was built with the capacity to withstand tragic events, the current pandemic situation takes things much farther than the planning of most organizations.  In fact, the pandemic has the capability of exposing governments to attacks as they focus their resources on the outbreak and direct much of their own staff to work from home.  Many governments are turning to services that they normally would not rely on to handle their communication.  Such communication methods may not be insecure, but there is no doubt that reliance on them could have unintended consequences.


How Hospitals and ASCs Are Affected During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The global pandemic known as COVID-19 has already affected over 280,000 people worldwide. As of March 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 15,219 cases and 201 deaths in 54 jurisdictions in the United States due to COVID-19.

In a New York Times article, researchers from Columbia University estimate that the coronavirus has infected far more people in the United States than testing has shown so far. They have given a stark warning: Some 650,000 people might become infected in the next two months even if the country cut its rate of transmission in half.

As coronavirus continues its spread across the US, hospitals, and health systems are bracing for the influx of patients with COVID-19. Healthcare providers nationwide are now making adjustments and new protocols to ensure patient safety.

Here’s how the situation is affecting hospitals and surgery centers across the US:

  1. Non-essential elective surgeries and other procedures (including dental) are being postponed

The CDC has given healthcare facilities and clinicians some directives in order to preserve staff, personal protective equipment (PPE), and patient care supplies:

  • Delay all elective ambulatory provider visits
  • Reschedule elective and non-urgent admissions
  • Delay inpatient and outpatient elective surgical and procedural cases
  • Postpone routine dental and eye care visits

Following the actions above can also help ensure staff and patient safety, and expand available hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also released its recommendations Wednesday night March 18, 2020, to limit all non-essential planned surgeries and procedures, including dental, until further notice. CMS recommends low to intermediate acuity surgery to be postponed if possible, this includes cataracts, elective angioplasty, colonoscopy, low-risk cancer, etc.

The Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) has also asked surgery centers to postpone elective surgeries for six to eight weeks unless the delay will significantly compromise patient safety.

Some hospitals in the U.S. are already canceling or postponing elective medical appointments and procedures as they prepare for the possibility of a surge in COVID-19 patients:

  • UCSF Health hospital system in San Francisco is postponing up to 7,000 appointments a day.
  • Seattle-based Proliance Surgeons canceled elective procedures at its 90 clinical care centers and 20 ASCs on March 17. The practice has made its ASCs available to local hospitals for elective procedures to free up capacity at the hospitals.
  1. Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) and other outpatient care facilities will play a key role 

As hospitals brace for an influx of patients with COVID-19, ASCs and other outpatient care facilities are taking on urgent cases to provide patients with much-needed inpatient care.

Hospitals are already delaying or canceling elective procedures to create capacity for those impacted by the novel coronavirus. When rescheduling is not an option, the CDC is recommending that hospitals shift urgent inpatient care to the outpatient setting.

There are 5,800 ASCs across the United States. These facilities can provide additional space, personnel, and equipment to help expand surge capacity and provider care services by expanding outpatient care for urgent elective procedures.

According to the Denver Post, Kaiser-Permanente is looking into using ASCs and critical-care hospitals to add beds for patients for the surge of COVID-19 patients in Colorado.

A special report by MSNBC's "Morning Joe" mentioned how ASCs can play a key role in combating COVID-19:

  • Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers can move additional elective procedures to ASCs. If the payers allow these surgeries to migrate to the ASC setting, it'll free up additional beds in hospitals to handle the coronavirus cases.
  • Up to 1,000 elective procedures can be authorized to be performed in an ASC setting.
  • ASCs could also be turned into triage stations if the situation calls for it.
  • ASCs also have equipment that could help alleviate concerns (e.g anesthesia machines in ASCs could act as long-term respirators once modified)
  1. While other ASCs are opening their doors, some are closing theirs

Surgery centers nationwide are closing or restricting access across because of the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Waverly Lake Surgery Center in Albany, Oregon, closed last week after a staff member may have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Tri-County Center for Endoscopy in Clinton Township, Michigan has closed proactively due to COVID-19.
  • The Riverside Surgery Center of Rutherford (N.J.) is open for urgent surgeries only and has reduced staff.

Several ASCs have already canceled or postponed procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASCA recommends that ASCs shut down based on any of these conditions:

  • If a patient, employee or physician that has been in the center has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Or if there is a significant shortage of masks, gowns, gloves or other PPE in the area.

At the same time, patients are also canceling or deferring procedures in light of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey by investment bank Jefferies. As the coronavirus is increasingly altering American life, almost a quarter of doctors surveyed said patients are canceling elective procedures because of the outbreak.


3 ASC Revenue Cycle Improvements for Financial Success

Every year new procedures and technological advancements in healthcare are coming into the realm of ambulatory surgery centers (ASC’s). Some of the factors that are driving this shift to ASC setting include cost reduction, better safety and patient outcomes, technological advancement, as well as an aging population.

With the increase in technology also comes a significant cost reduction of a certain procedure. This makes surgery centers more cost-efficient for payers and cost-attractive to patients as it offers them options that fit within their budgets.

The challenge now for ASC’s is to secure their bottom line as they come up with growth in the healthcare space. Here are tips that should be considered to improve your ASC’s revenue cycle:

Improve Claims Denial Management by Adopting Proactive Strategies

Being proactive means evaluating your center’s practices ahead of time-based on the available data and identifying the risks present in your revenue cycle. Think of it as preventive care for your revenue cycle.

In denials management, most teams just focus their efforts on revenue recovery. To be proactive, you need to prevent denials in the first place. Preventing denials is always better for your bottom line than recovering them.

For example, your surgery center needs to have visibility into how many coded claims are denied and the financial impact those denials have on your organization. The need to accurately capture and record care is critical to ensuring complete reimbursement, but a large proportion of organizations are currently struggling in this area.

Improve Patient Engagement and Financial Communication

Patients are frequently asked or made to decide between having their procedure done in a hospital or surgery center. Most of the time, physicians provide no explanation of what that means. This means some patient engagement and education need to take place even at the physician’s office.

There’s also a big opportunity for ASC’s to educate patients and build their patient base by increasing digital presence through a website or social media outreach to partnering with medical device companies to do patient outreach.

Patients need to be educated about the pros and cons of each facility (whether surgery center or hospital), the track record of the facility with the procedure, the patient’s financial responsibility, etc.

Not all patients understand their insurance plan, their insurance coverage, and what their portion will be. Hence, patients also need someone to talk through about how everything works from a financial perspective. Having patient financial advocates and implementing early financial communication to patients will make for a better experience and help ensure that your ASC will get paid.

Improve Early Detection and Prevention of Revenue Leakage

Undetected revenue leaks can hurt your surgery center’s profitability and cash flow. In 2013, McKinsey & Company reported that revenue cycle inefficiencies consume 15 cents of every healthcare dollar – $400 billion out of the $2.7 trillion spent on healthcare annually in America.

Many providers typically do not receive full reimbursement because patient collections are leaking throughout their revenue cycle. Some do not even detect the source or depth of their revenue loss.

It pays to know how much revenue you’re truly missing out on and where they are coming from. Leakage could come from coding errors, manual payment and collection processes, unbilled revenue, and poor denials management.

It is important to conduct thorough audits that can find even fewer common areas where revenue leakage can occur. For example, unbilled insurance can lead to lost revenue. To solve this problem, your facility needs to create reports that track unbilled insurance. In the same way, you can also have a report that tracks unbilled patients, including self-pay, promissory notes and patient balances after third-party payor responsibility is met.

It’s essential that every procedure performed in the practice becomes a claim in the billing process. One medical billing expert notes that a facility could easily be losing 10% or more of its revenue if it fails to track interpretation reports and fails to have checks and balances in place to make sure every service provided is being billed.


Strategies on How Providers Can Reduce Bad Debt in 2020

Hospitals today are struggling with increasing bad debt. They are struggling to collect payment from uninsured people, and with the rise of high deductible health plans, they are also being snubbed by insured patients who can't or won't pay skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs.

Bad debt refers to patient debt that is considered unrecoverable. Providers may report bad debt when unemployment or bankruptcy prevents patient payment, according to a new accounting standard that changed the definition of bad debt in 2018 — called the Revenue from Contracts with Customers (or Topic 606).

In 2018, 11-hospital Piedmont Healthcare had $250.7 million in bad-debt expense (about 8% of its $3 billion revenue that year — up from 6.5% of revenue in 2017). According to the American Hospital Directory, the national average for bad debt expense as a percentage of revenue for US acute care hospitals in 2018 was 1.73%.

A survey of 100 hospital executives conducted by Sage Growth Partners in 2018 revealed the following:

  • 36 percent of executives reported their health systems face more than $10 million in bad debt
  • 6 percent reported bad debt of over $50 million
  • About half of these executives indicated their hospitals could recover more than 10 percent of what they’re owed

As of 2018 data, hospitals have provided $41.3 billion in uncompensated care (i.e. care for which no payment was received from the patient or insurer). Uncompensated care is the sum of a hospital's bad debt and the financial assistance it provides (charity care).

According to a study from TransUnion, more than two-thirds of patients are also not paying their entire hospital bills, and that number could increase to 95 percent by 2020.

Reducing bad debt continues to be an uphill battle that hospitals face. Hospitals have employed a variety of strategies to address this concern, including point-of-service collections (with some hospitals requiring 25% upfront payment). Other strategies include providing enhanced technology for better cost estimates and offering low-cost financing or payment plans.

Patient Financial Education

A common feature among the different strategies is educating patients about their financial responsibility. Providers can give their patients a huge amount of support just by educating them about the portion of their medical bill that is their responsibility and taking into account the specifics of their insurance plan (what is and is not covered by their health insurance). Also, letting patients know which providers, services, and facilities are in their insurance network.

Providers should seize the opportunity to educate patients in the pre-registration process, informing patients of their responsibility. By engaging patients early in the process, hospitals avoid potential miscommunications regarding scheduling, collections, bad debt, and ultimately payment. A patient who knows what they are paying and why will have a better experience.

Sufficiently Identify Charity Care and Potential for Bad Debt Up Front

Healthcare providers often have difficulty in distinguishing bad debt from charity care. If hospitals identify patients who are eligible for charity care early in the process, hospitals can spend less time pursuing bad debt and more time focusing on high-level concerns.

With 501(r), non-profit hospitals are required to make “reasonable” efforts to determine whether or not a patient is eligible for charity care before engaging in “extraordinary collections” against the individual. Failure to fully adhere to the 501(r) requirements can result in the hospital losing tax-exempt status.

Depending on a variety of factors, including whether a patient completes an application for financial assistance, care may be classified as either financial assistance or bad debt. Even when hospitals have streamlined documentation requirements for charity care eligibility process, patients fail to fill them out.

Here are some reasons:

  • There may be language barrier problems
  • Some patients are just plain embarrassed and don’t apply
  • Some patients think charity care doesn’t apply to them
  • Some patients are unaware such an option exists

The challenge lies in finding out who qualifies for charity care within the steady flow of patient accounts (hundreds or thousands of new accounts every day). It is estimated that about 20% to 30% of bad debt could have been handled by diverting to charity care or other payers (e.g. Medicaid, marketplace exchanges, disability insurance, third-party payers, etc.), offering patient discounts, charging to available credit balances or offering extended payment arrangements, nonrecourse loans or other financial options.

Here are other points to consider:

  • Providers need to proactively keep charity out of bad debt.
  • Put in place processes to identify who can and cannot afford to pay in order to anticipate whether the patient’s care needs to be funded through an alternative source.
  • Providers should also continue efforts to identify patients who are unable to pay during the billing and collection process.

Leverage Data Analytics

Many hospitals are turning to predictive analytics to make valid assumptions about who is likely to be eligible for charity care. By using third-party data, hospitals can also identify which self-pay accounts can be pursued for collections and which accounts are presumptively eligible for charity care.

Leveraging data analytics can also enable a hospital’s financial counselors to provide consistent (unbiased) and efficient methods for identifying which patients are eligible for financial assistance.

Using data analytics allows hospitals to accelerate the segmentation of aged self-pay accounts into different buckets: for payment, for charity, and for bad debt. By segmenting patients into the "charity bucket" even as early as pre-service, hospitals can cut down on bad debt and facilitate reimbursements for greater cash flow.


Keeping Up With Trends and Challenges Facing Nonprofit Hospitals

According to the American Hospital Association or AHA, 79 percent of the 4840 U.S. community hospitals today are nonprofit (59 percent are private nonprofit and 20 percent are operated by state and local governments). This means that these nonprofit hospitals may qualify for favored tax treatment under federal—as well as a variety of state and local income, property, and sales—tax laws.

In addition to tax exemptions, nonprofit status allows hospitals to benefit from tax-exempt bond financing and to receive charitable contributions that are tax-deductible to donors.

A study released in 2016 by Health Affairs revealed that 7 of the 10 most-profitable hospitals in the US are nonprofit hospitals, each earning more than $160 million from patient care services. However, current trends such as lower reimbursement rates, shift to outpatient care, growing merger and acquisition activity, and rising ambulatory competition has transformed the healthcare landscape.

For two straight years, expenses have surpassed revenues for nonprofit and public hospitals, creating instability and further pressuring hospital margins, according to the fiscal 2017 sector medians from Moody's Investors Service.

Yet there seems to be hope as falling margins have reversed course in 2019 according to Fitch Ratings, with median margins improving over 10% compared to last year. Although this would appear to be light at the end of the tunnel, the challenges facing hospitals will still likely continue in the future.

For example, hospitals across the board (whether for-profit or nonprofit) may find patients increasingly seeking financial assistance as patient financial responsibility increased 12 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to TransUnion. The popularity of high-deductible health plans and greater cost-sharing arrangements with health plans is adding more fuel to this trend as patients are forced to pay more out-of-pocket costs.

Keeping Tax-Exempt Status: 501(r) Compliance

With the IRS policing compliance with Section 501(r) of the Internal Revenue Code, nonprofit hospitals need to do more than ever to keep their tax-exempt status.

In 2017, the hospital industry took notice when for the first time, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revoked a hospital’s tax-exempt status because the hospital failed to perform a community health needs assessment (CHNA), adopt an implementation strategy and make it broadly available to the public.

There are four specific areas that nonprofit hospitals have to address to keep their tax-exempt status:

  • Establishing a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA)
  • Establishing financial assistance policy (FAP) and emergency care policy
  • Limiting the amounts charged to FAP-eligible individuals
  • Making reasonable efforts to determine eligibility for assistance prior to engaging in extraordinary collection actions

There are some common issues regarding 501(r) compliance which hospitals need to look out for since they may trigger the IRS to do a full review, impose fines, or worse even revoke tax-exempt status:

  • The CHNA is not updated or comprehensive enough
  • The hospital fails to adopt an implementation strategy
  • There is inconsistent or selective application of the hospital’s FAP
  • The plain language summary or PLS is not readily available or in appropriate languages

Ensuring compliance with the policies in different situations within a complex industry like healthcare is quite a big challenge. It would be helpful for nonprofit hospitals to appoint key individuals who will be responsible for monitoring compliance with Section 501(r) in the long-term.

Revenue Cycle Concerns

Nonprofit hospitals face the same pressures as for-profit hospitals, with shrinking volumes, smaller federal reimbursements and rising costs. One of the key areas most impacted by the 501(r) requirements will be your hospital’s revenue cycle management. At the core of these requirements is the patient’s financial health.

For example, the hospital facility needs to make sure the patient has an opportunity to apply for financial assistance for several months after discharge. When a patient is FAP-eligible, the hospital also needs to make sure they aren't overbilled and that the bill complies with the limitations on charges requirement.

In most cases, a hospital may not know on admission if the patient qualifies for financial assistance. Hence, a hospital facility may presumptively determine an individual’s FAP-eligibility based on information other than that provided by the individual or based on a prior FAP-eligibility determination.

However, hospitals still need to perform reasonable efforts to determine FAP-eligibility even when doing a presumptive determination that an individual is eligible for less than the most generous assistance available under a FAP. This can be done by:

  1. Notifying the individual regarding the basis for the presumptive FAP-eligibility determination and how to apply for more generous assistance available under the FAP
  2. Giving the individual reasonable time to apply for more generous assistance before initiating any extraordinary collection actions to the discounted amount owed for the care
  3. Processing any complete FAP application the individual submits by the end of the application period or, if later, by the end of the reasonable time period given to apply for more generous assistance

In addition, hospitals can also leverage data to identify which self-pay accounts can be pursued for collections and which accounts are presumptively eligible for charity care.