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3/17/2010
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Hospital Supply System Improving Bill Accuracy

By simplifying medical supply record-keeping, a patient-charge capture system is helping a hospital system capture hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

In the past, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System would end up leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in patients' medical supply costs unbilled annually. Now, a new patient-charge capture system is helping the North Carolina hospital operator more accurately record and bill for patient supplies in real time.

Last October, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System began replacing an old patient-charge capture system with a new offering from Lawson Software called Point of Use.

The Lawson patient-charge capture system allows nursing staff to easily record the things they remove from medical supply rooms when gathering the items for patients.

The Point of Use system allows nurses to use wireless, mobile, Bluetooth-enabled devices to scan the barcodes on each medical item and automatically record the supplies selected for each patient.

That information is then "shot over in real time" to Appalachian's revenue cycle system, where that supply data is recorded into the bill of the appropriate patient, said Terry Prescott, director of business IT for Appalachian, a 262-bed hospital system with 1,500 employees in Boone, N.C.

So far, Appalachian has rolled out the new patient charge capture system in two of its three hospitals -- Watauga Medical Center and Blowing Rock Hospital -- with the last facility, Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital, slated to go on line with Lawson Point of Use in May, said Prescott.

The previous patient-charge capture system used by nurses was outdated and difficult to use, often resulting in nurses and other clinical staff not recording patient supplies in a consistent or timely way. Often, during a patient emergency, clinical staff would overlook recording any supplies used because the old system was so time-consuming and challenging to use, said Prescott.

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