Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
FY 2017 Close Out

Billing, Collections and Coding - Oh My!

As we close out Fiscal Year (FY) 17 which ended August 31, it’s good to consider what Texas Tech Physicians did well and where we can improve in the world of billing and collections. Overall, our net collections (less any refunds due for credit balances) ended up at $74,705,128. That’s up 3.49 percent over the prior year and represents progress and a good year.

In dollars, that’s $2,517,524 in additional money we can use to support the mission of the School of Medicine and Texas Tech Physicians. Our charges were up 2.01 percent and that’s a good thing as well. Any time the collection rate exceeds the charge growth rate that can be interpreted as a positive sign. Our collection rate for the FY just ended was 36.73 percent up over FY16’s figure of 36.20 percent and that’s with an increase in the fee schedule, which affects that rate.

As we look forward to FY18, we can continue to build on this momentum. We have several things planned that should help us in revenue cycle management. One of the more exciting activities is the 3M℠ CodeRyte℠ CodeAssist℠ System that we’ll be implementing. This is a web-based system that uses state-of-the-art natural language processing to review the Cerner Electronic Health Record and will suggest CPT ® and ICD codes. Many of the nation’s physician practices rely on this software as a key component of their coding operations. This product in no way reduces the role of our hardworking and knowledgeable Texas Tech Physician coders. In fact, it enhances their role and provides a new and powerful tool. Many have told me they’re excited to see this system become available. It has been a multiple year effort to get us to this point, and it is exciting. This system should help in reducing denials, A/R days and the total cost to collect.

Speaking of denials, we believe what your grandmother always told you is correct, namely that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Therefore, we are implementing a denials prevention approach (as part of an overall revenue cycle enhancement program.) Such an approach is superior to the costly and time-consuming denials management process. Obviously, we will continue the denials management progress we have in place and strive to improve it, but, preventing denials in the first place is the name of the game.

Of course, it’s not all about revenue, we’ll also be looking at expenses incurred as a cost of offering our services. If we pay attention to both revenue and expenses—FY18 will be a good year.

One last thing – many have expressed their concern for the safety and well being of those who were in the path of Hurricane Harvey. We have friends and colleagues who work at either UTMB/Galveston or UT Health Science Center at Houston or who live in the region. Many sustained major damage to their homes and some escaped the rising floodwaters with just the clothes on their backs. I spoke to one of our recent School of Medicine graduates doing his residency in the valley who confirmed he was fine. And, as I’m typing this, Hurricane Irma threatens the East Coast. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. Let’s be thankful for the safety and promise of today.

Have a good week.