Why Including Anesthesia Services in a Single-Bill Strategy Makes Sense

Summary

Anesthesia billing services are difficult to incorporate in a single-bill strategy because of compliance and coding, but solutions are available.

 

By Gary Keeling, executive director, Change Healthcare 

 

As competition for patients intensifies, more hospitals and health systems are embracing a consolidated, single-bill approach for services rendered. Creating a single bill for the patient’s portion of inpatient or outpatient services can help eliminate confusion and reduce the ill will that frequently results when patients receive multiple invoices for a single care event. Yet incorporating anesthesia charges into a consolidated invoice is often problematic due to the unique nature of the anesthesia billing compliance. 

Anesthesia Billing Service Hurdles

A few weeks ago, I met with the CEO of a 300-bed hospital. We discussed anesthesia billing, and he explained that his hospital traditionally outsourced this portion of its billing due to the more complex nature of anesthesia coding and the need to collect anesthesia minutes for billing. Unlike most inpatient services, anesthesia charges are not directly derived from CPT codes but instead utilize minutes and modifiers unique to the specialty.

That means coders must use a CPT crosswalk to account for ASA codes, base and time units, emergency- and physical-status monitors, split anesthesia units reflecting CRNA involvement, and other specialty-specific nuances. Most coders and hospital billing staff are not trained in these complexities, and hiring and retaining capable staff in today’s competitive market can be difficult. Moreover, many billing platforms are simply not equipped to incorporate all the variables necessary to produce an accurate anesthesia bill.

As a result, producing a consolidated patient bill that includes anesthesia is tricky. Yet leaving anesthesia off a single bill can undercut its value since, after facility and surgical charges, anesthesia often is one of the largest cost items patients incur. Fortunately, we at Change Healthcare know how to roll anesthesia charges into existing hospital billing systems to produce an accurate and timely single patient bill.

Helping to Reduce Costs

The benefits of consolidated billing extend beyond an improved patient experience. Producing just one bill reduces costs and repetition at both the front and back end of the revenue cycle management process. It can also ease staff burden when collecting on self-pay accounts, since there’s only one bill per patient. Finally, consolidated bills can help increase revenue by simplifying collections when patients present for follow-up care.

Here’s an example: When the patient comes back for post-surgery physical therapy, a hospital employee at the registration desk can remind them that they still owe $150 for anesthesia and ask if they’d like to take care of that now. In my experience, patients usually hand over their credit card and settle their bill on the spot when asked at the time of care about a balance due.

System-Agnostic Billing Across Hospital Platforms

Change Healthcare has a long history of providing full-service, outsourced anesthesia-billing services to hospital and health-system clients. Unlike most other billing vendors, we’ve developed what we call a system-agnostic approach. That means we’ll provide billing services on our proprietary system or on the hospital’s existing billing platform, regardless of type, to generate accurate anesthesia-billing results.

In practical terms, we’ll function as part of your billing team and use the same system your coders and billing staff rely on to generate anesthesia charges that can be included in a single patient bill.

System-agnostic billing also allows us to provide clients with custom anesthesia reporting that wouldn’t otherwise be available with an outsourced billing solution. This helps clients gain far greater visibility and insight into anesthesia-billing charges. And by incorporating our anesthesia coding and billing capabilities into your existing billing system, you’ll be spreading the platform’s fixed costs across a greater number of departments.

The bottom line? It’s not a heavy lift for us to virtually embed our trained anesthesia coders and billing professionals into your system. Our specialists will review your existing platform and provide, at no obligation, a return-on-investment analysis that can help you determine whether outsourcing anesthesia billing to capture claims on a single hospital bill makes sense for you.

We expect the answer will be yes. Not only will you enjoy greater system efficiencies, but you’ll be in a position to produce a single bill that truly reflects the entire episode of care. To learn more, please contact Change Healthcare Anesthesia at 1-844-798-3017 or visit our website: https://www.changehealthcare.com/revenue-cycle-management/reimbursement-management/physician-revenue-cycle-services/anesthesia-practices 

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