For orthopedic surgeons, trying to get paid….can be a pain

From my story at athenaInsight https://www.athenahealth.com/insight/treating-broken-bones-without-racking-bad-deb

From the story:

Orthopedic surgery is quite literally a pain for the patient who’s having it, but there’s a major downside for surgeons as well: bad debt. Among all medical specialties, orthopedic surgeons are the most likely to be unable to collect payment from either patients or insurers, especially as deductibles skyrocket. 

In a 2019 report from Medical Group Management Association, data revealed that at least 30 percent of orthopedic surgery practices were in arrears for more than 120 days. The median bad debt is about $48,000 for orthopedic surgeons, compared to $35,000 for other single surgery practices.”  

Many orthopedic practices focused on improving bill collection practices are counting on technology to help them meet their goals. There are a variety of measures physician practices are touting, says Kumrah. Patient cost-estimators can be used based on insurance providers that physicians contract with; they’re helpful because they can seamlessly identify bills for individual patients.  

Process automation robots can take care of the mindless tasks like verifying insurance eligibility and sending out reminders for upfront payments based on schedule. “Healthcare generally is slower to adopt tools/automation as compared to other industries, so it helps to see what’s worked elsewhere from that process and perspective,” Kumrah says.  

“When you have a better-organized system, you are going to have less bad debt,” says Cristy Good, Senior Industry Advisor for Medical Group Management Associate. “You make sure all things are in place: staff training on how to do front-end collections, how to educate patients on their responsibilities, be transparent in your pricing.” 

Thwarting bad debt relies on staying on the cutting edge of health technology, but practices can’t discount the skills of people-to-people conversations. With a little automation and ingenuity, orthopedic surgery doesn’t have to be as painful for anyone involved. — Joe Cantlupe, HealthDataBuzz

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