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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.

Inaccurate and late collection of the data about the supplies -- such as gauze, sutures, and other items used during patient care, treatments, and surgical procedures -- resulted in Appalachian often having to re-bill or late-bill patients, insurance companies, and government payers like Medicare and Medicaid, and often not billing anyone for supplies.

That meant hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in supply costs that Appalachian would be forced to write off or absorb without reimbursement, said Prescott.

The new system saves time for clinical staff in recording the use of patient supplies, as well as helping administrative staff be more productive in not having to track down and reconcile missing information for billing, said Sherrie King, an internal auditor at Appalachian.

Besides making supply-data capture easier for nursing staff, the new system "saves a lot of administrative headaches and also improves patient satisfaction," by reducing billing errors that often resulted in patients and their insurers receiving revised or additional bills to reflect supply-related mistakes, Prescott said.

Appalachian hasn't yet quantified the labor-related savings enabled by the new patient-charge capture system, but knows it's already helping to increase hospitals' revenue about 2% since being rolled out, said King.

Also, the new Point of Use system records the supplies used in various departments of the hospital, aiding in reporting and budget planning processes for each department, said Prescott. Before, patient supply data "all went into one bucket," he said.

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