Richland Parish Hospital Experiencing Important Outcomes from a Business Office Assessment Project

April 2013
National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center)

Richland Parish Hospital (RPH) is a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) located in Delhi, LA. The hospital has twenty-five inpatient beds for acute and skilled care. Outpatient services include digital mammography, cardiac and cardiopulmonary rehab, diabetic self-management program, diabetic foot and wound care, gastroenterology, intensive outpatient psychiatric services, Script Assist program, Medicaid Enrollment center, physical, occupational and speech therapies, transportation, and school-based health center.

Tommy Barnhart with Dixon Hughes worked with hospital leadership in FY12 to conduct a business office assessment project. Michael Carroll, Teresa Greer, and Linda Goode shared the following information about their Business Office Assessment project with RHPI.

Q: Why did you choose to focus on Business Office Assessment for your RHPI project?

A: We felt this would be beneficial to the hospital and the community.

Q: What is your hospital's current status with regard to implementing the recommendations made during this project?

A: We implemented a new prompt pay policy and have had a good response.  We now offer coupons with the first automatic bill that is sent to self-pay patients offering them a 35% discount if they pay by the first statement period.  This was implemented November 2012 and we have had a good response and have experienced an increase in payments.  We also created a new patient brochure that outlines information up front about financial issues, who to call, etc.  This has led to better patient satisfaction because they are not being transferred by phone from staff to staff; they know who to talk to up front.  We opened new FQHC in October and are using same patient payment policy and EMR.  This consistency between the clinic and hospital has helped the patient know what to expect regarding financial issues.  We also opened a clinic for dental, medical, and mental health services for the school system and have implemented mental health services in the clinic.  Focusing on the needs and experience of the patients has also revitalized the customer service training and initiative. Patients are happier and staff morale is better!

Q: What were the expected outcomes of this project? Has your hospital been able to document any of these outcomes?

A: Days Cash on Hand has increased and Days in Accounts Receivable has decreased.  In addition, we have more accurate identification of charity and sliding-scale amounts.  We didn't have a sliding fee scale at the hospital in the past and one of Tommy's recommendations is that we have a consistent policy.  The new patient brochure, which is given in the admissions office, has helped to increase the community knowledge of our charity program. Implementing the monthly statistics spreadsheet has made it easier to track different stats such as emergency room visits.  Overall, there is more awareness how everything impacts our bottom line.

Q: What are the expected next steps towards adopting your consultants' recommendations? Is there a sustainability plan?

A: Our next step is to include a tracking system for insurance contracts to see if the contracted amounts are being received.  Right now, this is being done manually.

Q: Is there anything your hospital would do differently if you were able to repeat this experience?

A: It was a very thorough project; everyone wears several hats so it's just finding the time to implement everything.

Q: Aside from the measurable outcomes, what has been the impact of this project on your community?

A: Increasing the awareness of our charity program has allowed us to reach patients that previously fell through the gaps.

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