Three ways to tackle the high cost of waste

New research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimates that 25% of U.S. healthcare spending, or $760 billion to $935 billion, is spent annually on waste1. According to the study, the greatest source of waste is administrative complexity, which accounts for $265.6 billion in annual waste.

Part of this administrative burden stems from a complex claims adjudication process impacted by legacy or outdated technology, a lack of clear contract or policy information, and no universal way for sharing information (e.g., member’s name, diagnosis code, etc.). These administrative challenges results in data and eligibility errors that are made throughout the claims continuum, resulting in millions of dollars in improper payments.

Life of a claim: Errors along the way

Payment Integrity continuum DiscoveryDespite the best efforts to address waste, administrative complexity in the healthcare system continues. Recent research from JAMA shows that measures to eliminate waste would result in a 25% improvement, but there’s more work to be done. Finding the root causes of errors is the most effective way to ultimately remove waste—and the high cost of it—from health plans’ payment integrity operations.

Here are three approaches to combatting the high cost of waste in your payment integrity strategy.

1. Reduce manual processes

Manual processes are often at the heart of human error. Manual processes are tedious, error-prone, and inefficient, contributing to the high cost of waste in healthcare. When your entire claims adjudication or payment integrity process contains manual tasks, the likelihood of error is high. Reducing or eliminating manual effort in your payment integrity processes will go a long way toward reducing waste.

2. Use technology to your advantage

Technology plays a key role in taking out waste from the payment integrity process. But outdated or legacy technology can create just as much waste as you might find with manual processes. With the right technology in place, you can modernize your payment integrity processes and reduce the amount of time and effort associated with correcting complex claims.

By the same token, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning solve traditional payment integrity problems in new and innovative ways. These technologies offer analytics and predictive insights that can optimize your claims payment processes and drive data-driven decisions.

3. Look to a partner for advanced capabilities

A partner can supplement your in-house operations and offer the expertise you need to reduce waste. The right partner will bring robust capabilities that round out your core operations—capabilities like data mining techniques that prevent incorrect and unnecessary payments; industry experts who are up on the ever-changing and complex healthcare landscape; and processes that identify opportunities to correct, recover, and prevent improper payments at all points in the claims’ lifecycle.

The high cost of waste can threaten the viability of organizations throughout the healthcare ecosystem. With a holistic, connected payment integrity strategy built around these three tenets, your organization can improve operational efficiencies and achieve financial integrity by preventing improper payments—all while eliminating waste and generating meaningful results.

To learn how Discovery Health Partners can help you advance into the future of payment integrity, contact us today.

1“Waste in the US Health Care System: Estimate Costs and Potential for Savings,” JAMA, October 7, 2019.
Subrahmanyam ManthaThree ways to tackle the high cost of waste
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Insights and observations on the digital healthcare revolution

At our recent Discovery Client Council meeting, we had the pleasure of hosting Wheeler Coleman, CEO and Executive Partner of EC-United and a member of our Strategic Advisory Board. In this guest blog, Wheeler summarizes the key takeaways of his presentation on the healthcare digital revolution.

Survive or thrive

The digital revolution has been a game changer for all industries, and health payers are not immune. Startup companies are creating new business models and blending existing and emerging technologies to leap-frog and disrupt well-established companies and business protocols. There are also well-established companies in other industries that are entering the healthcare industry to the same end—to change the model and dislocate the existing players.

A few good examples of this are Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. These companies see healthcare as an industry ripe for an operational and administrative transformation that they can deliver through their powerhouse of technological capabilities and expansive digital footprint. To survive, payers must take this threat seriously. They cannot take their leadership position or their iconic name for granted. Resting on their laurels will very likely result in a slow death spiral.

Look at a company like Kodak. They were a market leader with a great brand. Did you know that they created the digital camera? But they were so happy with their position that they refused to make changes and ignored the red flags:

  • Hitting a revenue plateau
  • Competing on price / no differentiation
  • Big on data and short on analysis and actionable information
  • Neglected table stakes
  • Too much pride
  • Too deep in their comfort zone

Healthcare payers need to make sure they don’t fall victim to the same pitfalls. They are enjoying large revenues now, and too many are unwilling to reconsider their business models and leverage technology to maximize efficiency.

We’ve seen how this plays out in other industries. The following well-known companies were able to leap-frog the competition and disrupt well-established businesses by creating new models and leveraging existing and emerging technology.

Uber disrupted the taxi and limousine business models and, in many markets, expanded the demand for service by leveraging GPS, e-commerce, and mobile technology.

Netflix disrupted the cable and movie industries and recently their stock increased 20 percent due to increased subscriptions. This happened when 4G was introduced and movies could be streamed to individual homes. They quickly pivoted from shipping DVDs to digitally streaming movies. The outcome has been the end of the video rental business and a cable industry trying to play catch-up.

Airbnb disrupted the hospitality market and transformed how people approach travel accommodations worldwide by allowing people to lease their homes electronically.

These three different companies in three different industries each changed the playing field and caused disruption by using new and emerging technologies, redesigning how services were delivered, and lobbying for new rules and regulations. So, the question for us is not if, but when will this happen to healthcare payers? Those who are reluctant and slow to adopt emerging technology or work with new technology partners could soon find themselves like the Kodaks of the world.

How does this apply in healthcare?

The companies we’ve already mentioned, and so many more, have reset consumer expectations across the board. In healthcare, we must keep up with the evolving demands of the new “digital patient” by harvesting actionable information from all the data that is being generated by the internet of things. To do this, our options must be instant, seamless, and insightful:

Instant—Information is now in all our pockets and consumers demand information in real time. Historically, our industry has taken advantage of batch processing, but we need to change our processes and our information systems to allow for real-time processing.

Seamless—The relationship between payer, provider, and member needs to become real-time. Payers and providers must be able to exchange information in real time without impacting the member experience. The member does not want to know what’s happening behind the scenes.

Insightful—Consumerism and social networks are generating an unprecedented amount of data that we need to be able to harvest and transform into actions. The new generation of analytics (advanced analytics, ML, AI, robotic technology) will allow us to discover noncompliance and fraud more easily than ever before, but only if data is converted to information that triggers action by the payer, provider, or member.

The digital revolution is upon us!

To catch up and better serve consumer demands and stay ahead of competition, companies will need:

Strategic partnerships—Companies must seek non-traditional employees and partners.

Operational excellence—Companies must reduce costs and increase efficiencies.

Emerging technology—Companies must rapidly adopt and embrace new technology.

Healthcare has historically been a slow mover in this regard, but some progressive healthcare organizations have already begun differentiating themselves by providing a more customer-friendly, tech-enabled experience. Still, it’s not too late for those companies contemplating their next moves. The companies that make this a priority and quickly adapt to this inevitable change can survive and rise to the top of their sectors. But the clock is ticking, and for those organizations that continue with business as usual, time is running out.

To learn how Discovery Health Partners can help you advance into the future of payment integrity, contact us today.

Wheeler ColemanInsights and observations on the digital healthcare revolution
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5 keys to hiring and keeping top-notch subrogation talent

It takes people with a unique mix of skills and experience to successfully handle complex healthcare subrogation matters involving third-party payers. Health plans that don’t have the right professional resources to identify and pursue recovery opportunities run the risk of leaving millions on the table.

Recruiting and retaining top-tier subrogation talent can be challenging but well worth the effort. Here are some insights and advice on finding the right subrogation staff, based on a recent survey of healthcare subrogation experts.

1. Subrogation experience is important but not critical

When it comes to prior work experience, front-line professionals agree that 1-4 years of experience provides a firm foundation.

What you might find surprising is that past subrogation experience is not the most important hiring criteria. Candidates with experience in related fields such as legal, claims, property and casualty, or medical coding typically have what it takes to review and understand complex medical claims.

Subrogation professionals also agree that regardless of industry affiliations, candidates should have top-notch organizational, multi-tasking, customer service, and communication skills. Additionally, the most successful subrogation specialists are good investigators, analysts, and critical thinkers who can navigate the “gray areas” to solve problems creatively. Solid relationship-building skills and a positive attitude are also must-haves to help subrogation professionals successfully negotiate for their share of limited recovery dollars.

2. Cast a wider net

In today’s tight job market, companies may have to look outside their industries and geographic regions to find top talent. Thanks to technology, more healthcare companies can offer remote work opportunities that will attract the best and brightest from across the country.

The medical and legal fields are good sources for high-quality candidates with transferable skills, since they already understand concepts used in subrogation. Often, healthcare companies can find new talent for entry-level positions at college career fairs. Look for students with backgrounds in legal studies, paralegal, and political science.

Law firms are filled with professionals who can easily apply their personal injury, class action, contracts, property and casualty, health, disability, and reinsurance claims experience to a career in healthcare subrogation. Insurance companies are also a good source of employees who already speak legalese and have mastered case management, handling multiple files at once, and reviewing medical claims.

3. Look beyond the resume

Once you find qualified candidates, you can use pre-screening tests and assessments as well as interviews to determine if someone will be a good fit for your organization. A multitude of online test sites offer customizable tools to measure everything from aptitude and attitude to role-specific knowledge and skills.

Assessments are good predictors of performance and offer insights to a candidate’s likelihood of job success as well as cultural indicators, such as honesty, discipline, and reliability. They can also help you make unbiased employment decisions based on quantifiable data.

Behavioral or problem-solving interviews that examine candidates’ past experiences or present real or simulated problems to solve will reveal insights into candidates’ thought processes, problem-solving skills, and ability to think clearly under pressure. Meanwhile, planned or structured interviews that present the same set of questions to everyone help level the playing field and call out the clear winners.

4. Set employees up for success

Congratulations! After a lot of time and effort, you found the right talent. So how can you keep them with you for the long haul?

Training is a good start to set new hires up for success and help more experienced employees advance their careers. Classroom training can cover in-house case management systems, procedures, and other basics. Side-by-side shadowing provides more in-depth exposure to practical applications. And mentoring is a great way for employees to get immediate feedback and learn tips and tricks of the trade.

5. Follow the leaders

Front-line subrogation specialists say that culture is a key to employee satisfaction. Adobe, Google, Southwest Airlines, and other highly sought-after employers have turned their culture into a competitive advantage by offering a combination of work, lifestyle, and monetary rewards. Challenging work assignments; empowering employees to go the extra mile to help customers; and perks like flexible working hours, on-site gyms, and even dog-friendly workplaces are incentives that the companies use to encourage loyalty.

Don’t forget rewards and recognition. Many subrogation associates see themselves as having a long-term career in the industry. Those who have a defined career path and feel valued are more likely to spend their career with you. Money can be a good motivator, but sometimes all it takes is a shout-out on the company website or positive feedback from an executive to encourage and inspire employee loyalty.

Collaborate with the experts

Even health plans with the best subrogation specialists can benefit from Discovery Health Partners’ deep expertise, advanced technologies, and data-driven approach. Find out how we can help health plans improve their recovery efforts on our Subrogation solutions page.

Heather Rodemann5 keys to hiring and keeping top-notch subrogation talent
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Three ways to modernize your COB approach

When health plans think of Coordination of Benefits (COB), the hassles of managing spreadsheets, letters, and phone calls come to mind. These painstaking manual and error-prone methods for identifying other insurance, validating coverage status, and recovering incorrectly paid claims can negatively affect your internal efficiencies, your provider and member relationships, and ultimately, your bottom line.

According to new research, waste accounts for about 25% of U.S. healthcare spending or $760 billion to $935 billion per year –with administrative complexity cited as the greatest source of waste.1 In addition, as many as 15% of all health plan members may hold other insurance coverage.2 Compounding these challenges are continual changes in membership, such as an aging workforce that is eligible for both employer plans and Medicare, and outdated claims processing environments that are ill-equipped to support growing and siloed data.

The convergence of these trends calls for a modern approach to managing your COB program. In today’s competitive marketplace, plans must have the right people, processes, and technology in place to effectively integrate data sources, look at member eligibility holistically, and determine the most successful indicators or combination of indicators of other coverage.

Here are three ways you can improve your COB program and cut down time, money, and paper:

#1: Increase recoveries with technology

There is great manual effort in traditional approaches to COB. Typical COB efforts involve tedious, time-consuming research and member questionnaires and calls—all of which are often ineffective and create member dissatisfaction. New technologies, such as machine learning, predictive analytics, and rules-based analytics, help identify members who have other forms of insurance and other factors that might mitigate inaccurate payments.

#2: Improve cost avoidance

One of the most important keys to success in the modern approach to COB is avoiding inaccurate payments in the first place. Proactive approaches to COB leverage sophisticated data integration, data mining, and data analytics. With technologies that quickly and accurately identify claims that are not the plan’s responsibility, a health plan can resolve claims before paying a dime.

#3: Focus on member and provider satisfaction

Traditional approaches to COB put members and providers in the middle, causing abrasion and dissatisfaction. The modern approach to COB requires that plans and their vendors look to new ways to get the information they need while communicating with providers and members on their terms. This may include using a combination of traditional communication channels, as well as member portals and automation to exchange information in more productive, cost-effective ways.

Core elements of a successful COB program begin with data sources, driven by sophisticated machine learning algorithms to create leads, and matching capabilities which all stand on the foundation of human talent. Without the right team, the technology does not yield the same results.

Discovery’s COB program encompasses all these components and offers both cost avoidance and post-payment, delivering considerable incremental recovery opportunities with minimal disruption to operations. Our COB program uses machine learning-based data mining and modeling to:

  • Identify additional instances of other insurance coverage
  • Validate coverage status
  • Recover any claims paid in error without any disruption to existing claims adjudication processes or existing internal COB validation and recovery efforts

The modern guide to COB - Get the eBook

1 JAMA, “Waste in the US Health Care System: Estimated Costs and potential for Savings,” October 7, 2019
2 Discovery Health Partners’ experience.
Ron JonesThree ways to modernize your COB approach
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How to wake up from subrogation nightmares

"Be afraid...be very afraid." (The Fly)Causes of subrogation terror

Healthcare subrogation can be terrifying! Health plans are “afraid…very afraid” of what high costs and low settlements do to their bottom line. They’re frightened of member backlash about questionnaires and phone calls asking for details about injuries they’ve suffered.

Let’s face it, we’ve all endured subrogation nightmares that keep us awake at night feeling anxious and dreading the dark. From case overload and staffing issues to non-responders and negotiation horrors, it seems that something scary is always lurking, waiting to throw us off track.

In this article (using more than a bit of tongue-in-cheek nods to some famous spooky movies), we’ll explore typical subrogation horrors and how advances in data and technology are helping us overcome the fright and emerge victorious.

"You're gonna need a bigger boat" (Jaws)What happens when case identification goes overboard?

Does your subrogation rely on broad case identification parameters? Do all identified cases flow into the investigation process? Do you find your team being eaten alive by case inventory backlog? If you said yes to these questions, “you’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

It has long been common practice to attempt to maximize subrogation recoveries by casting a “wide net” to identify suspect cases – often based mainly on diagnostic codes. Yet these loose identification standards produce too many false positives (unrecoverable cases), which when they make their way into the investigative stage, can drown recovery teams in excess work. The team either has to grow or it becomes overwhelmed and backlogs start to build up. In either case, it costs plans time and money without producing proportionately greater recoveries.

Meanwhile, the investigation of false positives can lead to unnecessary member outreach in the form of calls and questionnaires, which can confuse and frustrate members needlessly. With fierce competition among payers today, none can afford member abrasion.

Best practice is to avoid over-identifying subrogation cases. It’s a delicate balance between identifying too many cases, resulting in false positives, and identifying too few cases, resulting in missed opportunities.

"We're not in Kansas anymore" (Wizard of Oz)Three trends shaping the future of subrogation

Like the transformation from a drab landscape to a technicolor dreamscape, the last decade has seen dramatic advances in technology that can transform the subrogation operation from a dreary manual process to one driven by advanced technologies and automation.

From cloud-based storage and applications to data proliferation and predictive analytics, we now have faster, cheaper access to technology that can help us:

 

  • Leverage more sources of data from multiple internal and external sources
  • Identify subrogation-worthy cases faster and more accurately
  • Make pre-payment decisions about other party liability
  • Prioritize cases for investigation by scoring them based on multiple factors
  • Match cases to team members according to various factors such as workload and skill
  • Manage communications, including generating outgoing letters and uploading incoming letters
  • Capture information about relevant parties, including insurers, providers, and attorneys
  • Track and report on case progress for your whole inventory

To operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and improve recoveries, health plans should consider three trends that are taking shape in subrogation operations, both within health plans and subrogation vendors.

Trend #1:

“They’re heeere” (Poltergeist)“They’re heeere!” More data sources, that is!

It may sometimes feel like a terrifying spirit lurking within your walls, but don’t fear data! It’s your biggest asset and it’s all around you. With the abundance of internal and external data sources available today, you should be using all possible investigative tools to more accurately identify and investigate subrogation cases that have recovery potential.

First, it’s critical to ensure you’re maximizing all the data currently available to you. Then seek supplemental external data sources that can fill in context without member contact. Finally, use all this data to learn from past experiences and continuously improve your processes.

Traditional data sources contain valuable information

Traditionally, subrogation cases are identified based on diagnostic data from the member’s claim file. While this is an appropriate starting point, it’s important to go beyond diagnosis codes. By analyzing them along with demographic information, procedure codes, revenue codes, and other data elements, you can identify the relationships that lead to recoveries and that allow you to prioritize recovery efforts.

And when you continuously analyze these codes in connection with varying demographics (age, location, presence of other medical conditions) compared against the data on recoveries achieved, you can constantly refine which combinations are more likely than not to result in a recovery.

External data adds context

Meanwhile, external sources of data about motor vehicle accidents, liability, litigation, and workers’ compensation can provide valuable insight about claims, which can speed up case identification and investigation.

In recent years, these types of third-party data have become increasingly affordable and are available fast and electronically, so they can easily be incorporated into your systems. Data such as court documents, police reports, ambulance run reports, and litigation databases is extremely useful in the decision to open a case. It reduces your reliance on Incident Questionnaires and may allow you to sidestep member outreach altogether.

Additionally, some data sources can point to unique subrogation cases, such as malpractice or mass tort, which can be difficult to identify through normal data mining algorithms. In this case, eligibility information can be matched up to court case databases. As an example, a cancer diagnosis code does not necessarily indicate an injury, but it could be the result of negligence on the part of a company that has been named in a mass tort case.

By now, you may be thinking “easier said than done.” Maybe not. Read on to learn how Trend #2 enables plans to access and integrate internal and external data sources to simplify case identification as well as investigation and recovery.

Trend #2:

“It’s alive! It’s alive!” (Frankenstein)“It’s alive! It’s alive!” On-demand applications bring sluggish subrogation operations to life

Software-as-a-service applications are alive! On-demand subrogation software offers web-based access to data integration, case management, forecasting, and reporting. These applications allow you to integrate multiple data sources (without relying on internal IT) and leverage built-in analytics to identify cases more accurately. Case management features guide investigation and recovery processes with powerful tools such as diaries, contact databases, and letter generation engines.

These applications allow you to see the big picture across your subrogation operation. They maintain an ongoing record of all activity and correspondence for each case so that anyone with proper access can see the status of the case and any activity associated with it. If you’re able to use the application internally and extend access to your subrogation vendors, you’ll be able to measure performance across all delivery teams. This can provide valuable insight about worker productivity, process effectiveness, and overall financial performance.

Increasingly, application vendors are incorporating machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence) into their products. What this means is that over time, the system will continuously learn from the data and use what it learns to refine identification algorithms.

Trend #3:

"Whatever you do, don't fall asleep." (Nightmare on Elm Street)“Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep.” Prepayment cost avoidance and other tips to be proactive

Avoid subrogation nightmares with pre-payment solutions

What better way is there to maximize your bottom line than to know in advance of paying a claim that it’s another party’s responsibility?

Traditional subrogation models seek to recover funds after a payment on the claim has already occurred. But pre-payment subrogation decisions are now a real possibility, thanks to the availability of data and the technology that quickly integrates and analyzes it for us.

It makes sense for plans to begin exploring pre-payment capabilities, as it allows them to avoid 100% of the claim cost as well as the cost to recover after payment has been made. By quickly analyzing multiple types and sources of data, it is possible to determine much more quickly whether a) an injury is the result of another party’s fault and b) a claim has been filed by another carrier that would have primary responsibility for payment.

The key is to have the data and technology in place. Whether you are graced with a supportive IT team that develops these capabilities with you, or you acquire the applications externally, it’s critical to have fast access to data from multiple systems.

When implementing a pre-payment subrogation strategy, think strategically, review state requirements and your policy language. There are nuances to pre-payment but by engaging with your IT, legal and contracting teams, it can be successful. Additionally, keep in mind that pre-payment cost avoidance should be coupled with post-payment recovery for a holistic approach that follows the transaction through the whole lifecycle. Despite the efforts to acquire the right types of data, you won’t always get what you need fast enough for a pre-payment decision. Traditional post-payment subrogation augments pre-payment and serves as a safety net to catch any claims that you aren’t able to make a determination on within timely filing limits. Some erroneous payments will continue to be made, requiring post-payment evaluation.

Be alert for opportunities to optimize post-payment processes

The term “time is money” is very relevant to subrogation. The faster a case is handled, the better the plan’s chances are of maximizing the settlement. Therefore, it’s critical to be proactive throughout the post-payment subrogation process. Again, data and technology are key to making more informed decisions and automating complex tasks. Below are some tips:

  • Prioritize cases. Dollar value tends to be the most used metric for prioritization, but it shouldn’t be used alone. As mentioned earlier, multiple pieces of data can be used to determine recoverability, so teams can focus first on those cases that are more likely to settle.
  • Align case complexity with skills. When the most complex cases are assigned to the most skilled resources, they are likely to reach a settlement faster. This requires a definition of the elements of case complexity, as well as a method of evaluating skill levels.
  • Legal oversight. Legal resources should be engaged during the settlement phase of a subrogation case to aggressively pursue optimal recovery for the health plan. Though settlement is typically the shortest phase in a subrogation case, it’s also the most complex. With limited dollars available, legal negotiations must be articulate and based on a strong understanding of the plan’s rights.
  • Track and measure consistently. Measurement of subrogation performance is critical to knowing what works and where to make improvements. Plans should insist upon robust reporting and analytics across their subrogation inventory to quantify recovery efforts, view real-time and historical case data, forecast recoveries, and get regular reimbursement reports.

"This is not a dream! This is really happening!" (Rosemary's Baby)Causes of subrogation elation

Besides our references to horror movies, the common theme here is that data and technology are helping subrogation organizations maximize financial results for their plans more effectively than ever. Now is the time to take a fresh look at the tools and techniques used to identify, investigate, and settle third-party liability cases. Work with your IT organization, talk to your vendors, and evaluate the subrogation software available today. Our white paper on Transforming subrogation operations with data, technology, and analytics explores how newer technologies are making it more possible than ever to narrow the focus on subrogatable cases, minimize member contact, shorten time to settlement, and maximize recoveries.

Heather RodemannHow to wake up from subrogation nightmares
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Maximizing your COB processes with integrated technology

Primacy and eligibility errors can lead to serious losses and expenses. By some estimates, a third of paid health claims contain errors, and as many as 15% of members have other insurance—representing a staggering $1 trillion in annual waste1. Paying for claims due to incomplete or inaccurate member eligibility not only costs your plan millions in higher payouts and administrative costs, these errors can also generate substantial downstream administrative costs and greatly impact your provider and member relationships.

While Coordination of Benefits (COB) is a common occurrence (the process of determining which plan pays for what portions of a claim), the challenges associated with addressing other insurance retrospectively lead to increased administrative costs and payouts. Plans must go beyond the traditional process of post-payment recovery to an expansion of prospective processes that identify potential primacy conflicts while still in the pre-payment stage.

Things to ask as you evaluate your COB processes:

  • How can we identify more instances of other coverage and maximize our savings from cost avoidance and recovery of overpaid claims?
  • Do we have the data mining technology and expertise to identify Medicare or other commercial coverage?
  • How do our COB processes compare to industry best practices?
  • How do we transition our COB program from recovery to cost avoidance?
  • How can we minimize member and provider abrasion while coordinating benefits?

Data mining, business intelligence, and analytics are at the core of today’s most successful payment integrity strategies, including COB. As part of our connected payment integrity approach, Discovery’s COB solution automates data integration across multiple sources, bringing it all together in a single database that allows for quick and accurate identification of claims and provider responsibility. This means frequently refreshed data with up-to-date information. In addition, predictive analytics and machine-learning technologies analyze and prioritize data, allowing us to flag and take a closer look at members with a high probability of having other coverage. Our goal is to identify and address primacy issues at the earliest possible stage—improving claims payment accuracy, building stronger relationships with providers, and reducing administrative expenses.

To learn how Discovery Health Partners has helped health plans drive cost savings and millions of dollars in recoveries, download our COB case study or visit our Coordination of Benefits solution page.

1 The Office of the Actuary in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (July 2015)
Ron JonesMaximizing your COB processes with integrated technology
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Choosing the right COB partner for your plan

At any given time, between 8-15% of a health plan’s membership is covered by another plan, resulting in incorrect eligibility information that could be costing your plan millions in incorrect payments, time, and resources.

Disparate data, siloed information systems, and multiple moving parts all contribute to incorrect eligibility information and improper payments. To identify instances of other health insurance, your plan needs access to multiple data sources and the ability to verify state, CMS, and CAQH data—all of which add more time and resources. Even if done correctly, there is still a chance your plan is leaving money on the table. So what can you do and how do you find the right partner to supplement your team?

Choosing the right partner has never been more important or more daunting. A growing number of vendors claim to use leading-edge technology such as data mining, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. But what does this mean to you and your health plan?

To help you choose the right COB partner, here are some key factors to consider:

  • Data: Where is the potential vendor getting its data and is the data relevant to your plan?
  • Expertise: What type of clients does the COB vendor work with today? Are they specialized in one line of business or do they work across multiple? Does the vendor have folks with plan-side experience?
  • Satisfaction: Does the vendor have a track record of delivering value to its clients?
  • Flexibility: Is the vendor flexible enough to wrap around your current team? Or are they inflexible to change?
  • Technology: Is the vendor using cutting-edge technology—like AI and machine learning—to look at eligibility more holistically?
  • Research and development: Is the vendor relying on standardized practices that “worked before”? Or do they have a team of seasoned research analysts dedicated to looking for new rules, regulations, data sources, and data points to deliver additional value?
  • Full-service capabilities: Does the vendor offer solutions spanning all phases of the claims lifecycle (e.g., prospective, retrospective, hospice, etc.)?
  • Security: Is the vendor HIPAA and HITRUST compliant? What security standards and access policies are in place?
  • Partnership: Is the vendor willing to learn about your organization, what’s important you, and how to support your COB process and goals? Is this a joint collaboration and journey? Where does you plan line up with the vendor’s other clients? Will you be a priority for them?

 

To learn how Discovery Health Partners can help support your COB initiatives, visit our Coordination of Benefits solution page or open up the contact form to the right.

Kevin McDonaldChoosing the right COB partner for your plan
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Subrogation: 3 ways SaaS can help

For many health plans, the challenges associated with subrogation―the process of recovering healthcare claim payments that are a third-party’s responsibility―are significant. Outdated identification methods, potential member abrasion, slow validation processes, and marginal settlement rates all impact your ability to appropriately contain and recover costs.

How can you overcome these challenges and maximize recoveries in less time and at a lower cost? Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are a way to enhance your subrogation programs and recoveries. Plans are finding that the combined power of transformative technology and in-house expertise facilitates a more effective, data-driven approach for finding and validating recovery opportunities with minimal member abrasion.

With this in mind, here are three simple but powerful ways SaaS solutions can help you optimize your subrogation operations:

#1: Make in-house recovery management more efficient and insightful

The power of automation allows health plans to do more with less. Built-in algorithms, advanced data-mining techniques, and machine learning work to effortlessly manage cases and shorten the information gathering process. Reporting and analysis give instant and sharable views into recovery efforts. Combine these solutions with user-defined customization options that can be tailored to your needs, and the once burdensome task of subrogation becomes a breeze.

#2: Gain accessible, easy-to-use, highly scalable, and secure solutions

With SaaS, there’s no need for rigorous installs or startups. The system can scale drastically and on-demand, depending on your organization’s needs. Most importantly, the security and fail-safe measures in place not only guarantee continued operations in an emergency, but also consistently ensure that HIPAA and HITRUST CSF® certification requirements are met.

#3: Do more at a lower cost

With the advent of cloud technology, SaaS offers a significant boost to the bottom line for any business. Every application can be accessed from a simple desktop, and processes have been streamlined to make it as painless as possible. Regular, non-disruptive system enhancements work to improve your solutions as well, so your recovery efforts—and your business—continually evolve without interruption.

In a highly competitive marketplace where claims accuracy and cost containment are paramount, SaaS applications can empower your plan with improved efficiencies and productivity―facilitating more accurate payment decisions and generating greater recoveries.

To learn more about the benefits of SaaS applications for subrogation, download our white paper or visit our Subrogation solutions page.

Heather RodemannSubrogation: 3 ways SaaS can help
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It’s challenging to identify and restore underpaid ESRD premiums. Here’s how to solve that.

Why it’s a challenge to identify and restore underpaid ESRD premiums

In her recent blog, Why Medicare Advantage plans may be losing money on members with ESRD, my colleague Lyndsay Deckert addressed the challenges MA plans face with receiving accurate premiums from CMS for members with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). I’ll pick up from Lyndsay’s information and delve more deeply into how Medicare Advantage plans can restore underpaid ESRD premiums.

Health plans miss out on millions in premium revenue that can be traced back to missing or inaccurate CMS data about ESRD statuses for MA members. To address this, many plans have developed processes for identifying and correcting inaccurate data, restoring underpaid premiums, and ensuring they collect the correct premiums going forward for their members with ESRD. However, ESRD premium restoration is a complex process that requires combing through multiple data sources to identify potential premium gaps and working through providers to correct ESRD-related patient information. This process is painstaking and requires tenacity.

ESRD reporting is (mostly) out of your control

The first challenge is sifting through data in CMS Monthly Membership Reports (MMRs), plan eligibility files, and claims data to find any potentially underpaid premiums. The clues may be hidden in various, disparate data sources. To make sense of these clues, it helps to have an automated process to bring all these data sources together and use optimized analytical queries to find anomalies in the data. This is in your control.

What’s not in your control is updating the potential missing flags once you’ve identified them. Plans must work with providers who are often pressed for time and resources and are subject to human error. One simple mistake can prevent CMS from restoring a patient’s ESRD status in the member data. This omission can take years to uncover and can cost the health plan millions in the meantime.

Plans can take control of ESRD restoration with systematic approach and patience

CMS allows health plans to identify, investigate, and restore up to 84 months of underpaid premiums for members with ESRD. However, it’s the plan’s responsibility to identify those ESRD members and to ensure their data is validated and corrected according to CMS guidelines.

Plans that take a systematic approach to analyzing and reconciling their ESRD membership can successfully restore underpaid premiums and ensure accurate premium payments going forward. Many plans find that partnering with an experienced ESRD premium restoration vendor to focus on the things outside the plan’s control can help maximize results.

Here are 5 components of an effective ESRD premium restoration program that plans should look for:

Analytics—Comb through vast amounts of MMR, eligibility, and claims data going as far back as 84 months and identify likely ESRD members that require further investigation

Investigation—Determine the root-cause issues for each ESRD member that’s identified and the right process for addressing the issues with the appropriate submitting authorities

Remediation—Use the right method of outreach and coordinate with dialysis centers, CMS, or other third parties to ensure that information is corrected and updates are confirmed

Restoration—Diligently track and reconcile restored premiums and monitor future premiums for accuracy for as long as it takes to make sure revenue is fully realized

Monitoring—Ensure that each identified ESRD member status continues to be reported accurately and that correct premiums continue to be paid

With a systematic approach, time, and patience, plans can gain control of ESRD member statuses and restore underpaid premiums.

Kevin McDonaldIt’s challenging to identify and restore underpaid ESRD premiums. Here’s how to solve that.
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Why Medicare Advantage plans may be losing money on members with ESRD

MA plans may be operating at a deficit for some members with ESRD diagnoses

Among the Medicare Advantage (MA) population, roughly half of a percent of members have a costly disease known as ESRD, or end-stage renal disease. Though this accounts for just under 100,000 people nationwide, the disease requires expensive, life-long care, which results in a disproportionate percentage of medical expense. For this reason, MA plans must ensure they know who these members are and verify that the premiums they’re receiving from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are correct.

The 21st Century Cures Act (CURES; P.L. 114-255) will allow Medicare-eligible individuals with existing ESRD to enroll in Medicare Part C plans beginning in 2021[i]. With this significant change and as MA plans grow in popularity among older Americans, plans can expect to see an increase in their members with ESRD. To help manage this change, plans must focus on maximizing their financial performance so they can continue to remain competitive and offer enhanced benefits and care for their members.

And when it comes to covering the cost of care for members with ESRD, if CMS isn’t correctly paying these members’ premiums, then plans begin to operate at a deficit for these members. They pay the high cost of care, including ongoing dialysis treatments, but they do not receive the revenue to cover those costs. Over time, this adds up to millions in lost revenue for plans.

Higher CMS premiums should cover higher cost of care

CMS pays MA plans a significantly higher premium for each member with ESRD to help cover the higher costs of their expensive long-term treatment and care. The difference between a base monthly premium for a healthy member and a member with ESRD is roughly $6,000.

Because most members with ESRD are affected by a variety of additional health factors that affect their CMS premiums to the MA plan, the actual monthly loss per member can exceed $7,000. You can see how, when those premiums go unpaid, this adds up quickly for a single member and why, for such a small population, the deficit can grow exponentially across the whole population. Considering nationwide MA membership, this represents as much as $600 million in lost ESRD revenue opportunity industry-wide.

ESRD diagnoses go unnoticed

You may wonder how CMS might be overlooking ESRD statuses. The reasons range from clerical errors to eligibility issues to technology problems. Sometimes it’s just a matter of a delay before CMS begins paying the premiums. In any case, it’s incumbent on the health plan to find these errors and work to correct them so they can recoup underpaid premiums.

Like with premiums for Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP), CMS allows health plans to recover underpaid ESRD premiums 84 months in arrears. All MA plans should examine their populations to identify any missed ESRD statuses and corresponding premium errors. They can work through CMS and providers to identify why the errors happened, correct the problems, and restore underpaid premiums.

Is my plan losing out on ESRD revenue?

Possibly. Unfortunately, ESRD premium gaps are difficult to manage because of the reliance on third-party providers such as dialysis centers.

The bottom line is that ESRD patients may not get flagged in CMS data. And since plans don’t have ready access to the information used in ESRD treatment and reporting, they may not even be aware of a member’s diagnosis until months or years into their treatment, after they have already missed out on millions in premiums.

We work with a number of MA plans to find missing ESRD flags and restore underpaid premiums for those members.  We’ve consistently identified millions of dollars in underpaid premiums for plans with more than 100,000 members. And even though some of these plans already successfully identified missing ESRD flags, we uncovered even more.

Learn more about restoring underpaid premiums for members with ESRD.

[i] https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45290.pdf

Lyndsay DeckertWhy Medicare Advantage plans may be losing money on members with ESRD
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