Rising costs. Canceled surgeries and routine visits. Uncertain reimbursements for COVID-19 patient care. Longer lengths of stay in ever-more-crowded ICUs. Their combined impact on healthcare revenues makes it critical to ensure you’re optimizing all available revenue streams during the COVID-19 crisis.
Not surprisingly, Moody’s Investor Service recently downgraded its financial outlook for nonprofit healthcare organizations from stable to negative, largely due to COVID-19. The new Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) federal stimulus measures will certainly provide some relief. The $100B allocated for hospitals in this package includes a 20 percent pay increase for Medicare COVID-19 patients and delays a planned 2 percent Medicare sequestration payment cut.
Yet, with an expected 10-day average length of stay for coronavirus patients, additional costs of isolation and protective equipment and potential shortages of skilled healthcare providers driving up staffing costs, it’s unclear to what extent this additional money will cover rising healthcare costs and revenues losses related to the loss of elective surgical and other volumes. One analysis suggested that many hospitals could lose over $1,000 per COVID-19 patient – even with additional federal dollars.
Independent physician practices will be hit especially hard, but telehealth provides an opportunity to recoup some lost revenue. Small business loans in the new federal aid packages could provide some relief for practices that can retain staff and qualify for loan forgiveness. Understanding how these new aid packages might translate to financial relief will take some time for an already-overburdened health system.
In the meantime, health IT vendors need to do what they can to ease the burden on providers. Ensuring you’re optimizing revenue as quickly and effortlessly as possible is one approach. To this end, here are five ways providers can strengthen revenue integrity during the COVID-19 crisis. (We also have detailed information about the pandemic response tools available through the Ingenious Med platform on our COVID-19 Support Measures page.)
1. MOBILE CHARGE CAPTURE for conditions associated with COVID-19
Capturing charges at the point of care using mobile devices is especially useful during this pandemic. Providers can quickly capture the same CPT codes they normally would when treating patients for emergent coronavirus-related symptoms, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and respiratory distress.
2. Readily capture new COVID-19 diagnosis codes
Revenue Cycle Management platforms should be updated to accommodate codes for diagnosing emerging health issues – especially the new CMS diagnosis code specific to the virus, U07.1 – COVID-19. This will enable providers to readily capture the appropriate revenues.
3. Capture telemedicine revenues
CMS recently relaxed restrictions on telemedicine, and many practices are using this approach to deliver care while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 to patients and staff, as well as extend coverage to understaffed areas. A recent survey of 500 consumers by Black Book Market Research and Sage Growth Partners found that 59 percent of respondents are more likely to use telemedicine now than before COVID-19 became a concern.
4. Enhance tracking and reporting of COVID-19 patients
Practices should activate solutions that give them additional visibility and insights into their patients with COVID-19. Doing so will help them better monitor the patients’ clinical progress and the resources used to treat them.
5. COVID-19 patient cohorting
Finally, organizations should adopt additional patient management solutions in response to the pandemic. This includes updating IT systems to support new, temporary isolation and quarantine units with expanded provider and caregiver rosters around COVID-19 patients.
Ingenious Med is committed to supporting hospitals and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As patient volumes grow and care delivery needs expand, health systems and physician groups will need to scale appropriately. Maintaining workflow efficiency and revenue integrity will require a wider range of clinical staff to collaborate on care delivery, making efficient charge capture, data analytics and secure communication more critical than ever.
These steps can hopefully contribute to easing the burden on staff while preventing avoidable revenue loss at a stressful time. Let us know if you have other ideas for helping you do your job better during the pandemic.