Friday, February 12, 2010

Building New Business in Your Emergency Department

Earlier we have discussed Improving Patient Throughput and Staff Productivity in your ED. I want to finish the week by discussing Building New Business. After all this is the real goal for all hospitals struggling with cost increases and declining reimbursement. If you are not growing you are actually shrinking.

Building new business certainly means bringing new patients in the door, but it also refers to adding new revenue. There are things that hospital's can do to increase the revenue from their current business. One area we usually see overlooked is collecting CoPays from patients at the time they come in for service. When I mention this people tend to imagine the mercenary hospital refusing to treat the dying patient until they get the payment issues settled. This is not the typical scenario. Obviously all EDs are committed to treating first and asking the questions later for critical patients. But what about the other great majority of patients whose conditions are not life threatening? Having a system in place to collect CoPays up front, just like at the doctor's office, can have a big impact on revenue. We recently saw a hospital increase its overall CoPay collection by 65% simply by asking for the payment upfront.

Next I want to discuss building the number of "treat and street" ED patients. Those patients less severely ill who can be discharged to home. The quickest way to grow this number is to simply follow the steps from my previous posts on patient throughput along with a strong emphasis on customer service. The ED lives or dies by the word of mouth marketing done by its former patients. If a patient has issues, they tell everybody. If a patient gets exactly what was expected, they may not market for you but they will come back. If you exceed expectations, or effectively deal with a problem they had, they become your ambassadors in the community. A recent hospital we worked with increased their non admitted ED volume by 20% by following this formula.

The formula for building volume of the admitted ED patients is essentially the same except you need to also involve inpatient throughput to ensure that there are no bottlenecks that result in waits in the ED. It sounds simple but once you fix the processes in you ED and provide world class customer service, the growth in business is almost automatic. One hospital client actually saw a 50% increase in patients admitted from the ED, generating $20 Million in new revenue to the operating statement.

This is a great example of Quality First and Finances Follow.

Have a good weekend.

Mark Brodeur

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