Managing the Healthcare Revenue Cycle, Part 2: Patient Pre-Registration

The first article in this series introduced several ways that software and strategies support patient scheduling within the Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) for healthcare organizations.

These have been universally adopted and have already redefined the level of service that patients have come to expect. The right software can streamline many processes before the patient even comes into the office for the encounter.

Now, we’ll go into more detail about pulling in patient data and managing it to speed up appointments and claims processing.

Stage 2 of Healthcare RCM: Patient Pre-registration

There is no standard definition for what it means to be pre-registered. For many hospitals, these are the only pieces of data that matter:

  • Patient address for follow up
  • Patient acknowledgement of financial responsibility, and
  • Confirmation of the patient’s insurance coverage.

Those three pieces of information represent the absolute minimum that must be verified at least 24 hours prior to the patient’s appointment to be considered pre-registered.

After that, there are a wide range of demographic data that you can choose to collect to help the patient get the appropriate care as soon as possible.

On the other hand, others have found that they need to secure pre-authorizations of insurance and co-pays to continue operating. No matter what your pre-registration policies, there are software solutions to help you improve critical processes and improve the patient experience.

Improving the Patient Pre-Registration Process for RCM

The best way to speed the pre-registration process is to eliminate paper forms as much as possible. Data on the paper forms must be manually entered into the system by your staff, which takes more time and increases the chance of data entry errors.

Examples of solutions that help achieve paperless patient pre-registration processes can include:

  • Document capture software: Healthcare providers have many options for deploying document capture software that can combine scanning, importing and the ability to integrate the incoming information directly into the network's electronic medical records.
  • A central digital repository: From there, data should be maintained securely within a central digital repository that can feed out the necessary data to any of your other systems as the patient's claim moves toward completion.
  • Mobile capture solution: Instead of greeting patients with a clipboard and a paper form, front office staff may ask patients for their ID and insurance documents to scan. The patient can then sign off on the information presented to them on the screen of a mobile device.

Supporting RCM with Mobile Data Entry

One of the most popular developments in paperless registration is the OnBase Mobile eCapture solution. Patients begin the pre-registration process by reading over the required registration forms on a mobile tablet. These forms can instantly translate to the patient’s preferred language so you can be sure he/she fully understands the information presented.

Benefits of this solution include:

  • Patients spend less time writing out the same information over and over. The completed and signed forms integrate with the OnBase enterprise content management (ECM) systems.
  • Hospitals automate more local processes resulting in lowered costs, more time for patient care and improved patient satisfaction scores.

OnBase Mobile eCapture also takes advantage of the mobile device’s camera to add and index images to patient records. If the patient is already in a room and the staff needs to update the record, the mobile device can capture new images as well as update his or her information on the spot wherever the patient is.

Maintain HIPAA Compliance and Data Privacy

Another benefit of this pre-registration process is that it puts your organization ahead of HIPAA security concerns. The documents and data inside OnBase are secure and transferring information between office staff is no longer a security concern.

In case your systems go offline, you can rest easy knowing that OnBase backs everything up. If anything happens to the original servers, you have a plan in place for full disaster recovery. Nothing is lost. With OnBase, meeting audit requirements (such as document viewing, sharing and printing) is far easier as well since you no longer have to deal with paper filing systems and boxes of aging documents.

In addition to complying with HIPAA, hospitals and healthcare providers increasingly face tighter controls over identity theft regulation as well. The FTC's Red Flag Rule singled out healthcare as an industry needing greater compliance for both spotting and preventing identity theft.

The pre-registration phase is the place to make that happen since that’s when staff verify demographic information obtained from driver's licenses, state IDs, recent mail, social security numbers, etc. Those who have been slow to implement software and strategies to prevent identity theft have faced fines and severe penalties simply because hard-copies provide little-to-no security.

The Final Stage of the RCM Pre-encounter Phase: Point-of-Service (POS)

The third stage of the revenue cycle deals with one of the most important areas of concern for finance departments: receiving payment. Point-of-service (POS) payment solutions can help manage the patient's portion of the payment, reducing uncertainty and speeding collections times. In the next article, you'll read about the latest advances in software that can help you accept more varied forms of payment, post patient co-pays as soon as possible and calculate complex deductibles to position your organization to avoid the most common payment delays at the end of the claims process.