Sutter Health

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Sutter Health

Sutter Health

Sutter Health Care Case Analysis

With the current recession, health care organizations have seen in increase in the inability to collect debt from self-pay, uninsured, and underinsured patients. This has caused a struggle on the organization to meet operational margins, and profits. There are a number of reasons for this new increase in patient debts, the more common are, poor accounting practices, lack of patient information and correct patient demographics. Obtaining the correct patient information plays a large part on non collectable debt because patients are not able to be reached. Even though there are uninsured individuals, “more than 80 percent of uninsured people come from working families (Souza, 2007)”. Many of theses people have the means to pay for hospital services but are not requested to pay out the funds.

Sutter Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides health care to over 100 Northern California cities and towns (Souza & McCarty, 2007). Sutter Health is composed of hospitals, physician organizations and other health care service providers that share resources and expertise to advance health care quality. They have grown from a small independent health care facility in Sacramento to one of the largest health care providers today.

Strategies to increase Self-pay patient collections

It's no secret that the number of self-pay patients has increased dramatically in recent years. The current state of the sluggish economy means that fewer people receive health insurance through employers, and nearly all of those who are lucky enough to be insured must pay higher copays and deductibles. These increases mean patients' self-pay portions of their bills go up, often leaving providers struggling to collect from them.

In these changing times, it always pays (literally) to keep focus on the collection basics. Consider these tips for collecting from self-pay patients:

Improve upfront communication with patients

Provide patients with advance estimates of financial obligations based on their insurance coverage. It is vitally important to treat patients with financial excellence before they experience the clinical excellence. The financial counselors will explain options upfront like payment plans and discounts for early cash pay and help them understand their health savings account, for example. Having these upfront communications can benefit both patient and provider.

Give patients every opportunity to pay

Provide patients with multiple choices and opportunities to pay. This is an area where hospitals have made huge strides, but there is usually more that can be done. Even though the days of patients having to stand in line to write checks with multiple forms of ID have passed, hospitals still can make the experience easier on patients. Most hospitals are not doing everything they could, either. That includes taking money upfront, check-in kiosks, online payments, payments by phone, e-checks-anything that streamlines the process will help.

Patients often feel more satisfied when they have more payment options too. "It may feel like collecting from patients isn't providing good customer service, but it is because this can allow them to focus only on their medical situation without financial ...
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