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4 tips for ASCs to select a business analytics system and streamline collections

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James BellDecreasing reimbursements and rising costs have made it increasingly difficult for ambulatory surgery centers to effectively manage collections.

Fortunately, business analytics software is making it easier for centers to monitor their revenue cycle while simplifying coding and collections. The depth of information provided by business analytics software ranges from basic to extremely detailed depending on the needs of the user, and of course, the system. From AR clerks all the way to management, the value of business analytics software can be experienced across many levels at a center.

Because not all business analytics systems are created equal, the following will help guide you in your search.

1.    Make it an extension of your existing software. The ability to pull information from your existing management software into your business analytics software is a significant time saver. In addition to providing a quick, easy way get your base information, datais more consistent and the possibility of errors resulting from mistyped information is significantly reduced. The ability to import data from our existing management software from SourceMedical into the LaClaro system has proven to be extremely valuable as information is always accurate and current.

For example, all of the contracts loaded into our SourceMedical system were seamlessly pulled into the LaClaro system. Using the payment auto worksheet feature we can easily view claims to see what was filed, when, and how they went through the audit process. A comparison of contracts and reimbursement rates shows what is allowed, while coding sequence is checked to make sure everything is in the correct order and any errors are corrected. The LaClaro system also pulls the supply chain data from our SourceMedical system which enables us to easily monitor our supply costs.

2.    Require detail. The ability to dive deeper into aging claims and review key indicators at any given time provides valuable insight into a center's revenue cycle. The ideal system will allow you to drill down and view claims by insurance, A/R, patient, physician, date, etc. For example, we are able to quickly generate reports with drill down details such as case cap, case rate, and volume analysis reports which saves us hours by eliminating the need to do manual analysis. Being able to print daily snapshot reports offers the necessary insight to oversee our center's revenue cycle and determine where things stand at any given time as well as where we need to go.

3.    Ask about customization. Because not all centers are the same, it is important to find a business analytics system that allows for customization based on a center's specific business needs. Additionally, look for a vendor that will continue to work with you on customization once the software has been rolled out.  For example, initially two steps were required before our collections team was able to view their assigned accounts. After mentioning the dilemma to our vendor they were able to customize the software so that each collector could view all of the accounts by simply selecting their own name from a new "collector" drop down menu. This was only one of many requests we made which were fulfilled.

4.    Make it easy. As with any technology, the software you select should be easy to access, use and understand. If it is not intuitive, it will not be used to its fullest potential. Both the system and the vendor should be flexible and work with your current business operations. Look for a vendor that is attentive to your business needs, this includes being responsive to your calls. Inquire about implementation and training as well.

When deploying a system, you have to be open-minded; find out what it can do for your business and how you can integrate it into your existing system. With the right solution in place, significant financial and operational benefits can be achieved.

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