Fixing payment integrity at the source

“New year, new me.” Seems like we hear this at the beginning of every year and hold on to the promise of moving on from the past and setting new goals for the future. Likewise, healthcare organizations are kicking off 2020 by charting new paths to address old problems and expanding into new initiatives to stay ahead of the competition.

Priorities such as increasing member satisfaction, provider relationships, and regulatory compliance remain top of mind for many health plans, which makes it a good time to take a fresh look at your payment integrity strategies and resources. Now is the time to evaluate how well your plan is maximizing recovery opportunities, improving cost avoidance strategies, and exploring premium restoration possibilities. To do this, you need to start at the source of your payment integrity challenges: eligibility data.

The impact of eligibility errors

It’s a known fact that improper payments abound in healthcare, many of which stem from eligibility errors made as a result of multiple data sources, outdated technology, manual processes, and members with other insurance coverage. When eligibility errors occur, they affect many payment integrity areas such as coordination of benefits (COB), subrogation, and Medicare secondary payer (MSP) validation. Failing to address these issues leads to incorrectly paid claims, improper reimbursements, or claims that shouldn’t be paid at all—costing your plan millions.

According to Gartner, billions of dollars are spent every year in improper claims payments across commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid lines of business. Gartner research states, “Payer CIOs must get proactive and leapfrog current performance by focusing on prospective payment integrity capabilities.” With this in mind, what can you do to strengthen your payment integrity approach?1

Identify inaccurate eligibility data

When taking a close look at eligibility data, your plan will want to determine which claims may have been paid incorrectly as a result of inaccuracies. We estimate that 20% of a plan’s membership will have other insurance, and of that 20%, the other insurance will be primary 17.5% of the time. For a 200,000-member plan, this represents nearly $5.4 million in incorrectly paid claims. When statistics like this are uncovered, the plan quickly realizes how important it is to keep its eligibility data in check.

Determine a cost-avoidance strategy

Avoiding improper payments is a core tenet of any payment integrity strategy. Accurate and trusted eligibility data plays a key role. We estimate that the same 200,000-member plan could save over $13.4 million by avoiding incorrect payments. With the right cost avoidance strategies founded on accurate eligibility data, the plan stands to see a significant impact to its bottom line.

Look beyond dollars and cents

When evaluating your payment integrity strategy, you will want to think beyond dollars and cents. Quality eligibility data will have a positive effect on administrative efficiency, member satisfaction, and provider relations.

By avoiding improper payments in the first place, you avoid the need to rebill, saving you and your staff valuable time and energy that might be channeled toward other payment integrity initiatives.

Member satisfaction is a key priority for any health plan. In fact, the member experience drives performance on CAHPS (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), which is a key driver of Star ratings. Eligibility data drives a diverse number of systems and processes including registration, enrollment, care provision, wellness, and customer care. All of these areas influence your members’ experiences with your plan.

Lastly, providers depend on prompt, accurate payment. When claims are denied as a result of recurrent eligibility issues, payer-provider relationships already burdened by administrative complexity are further strained. Ensuring accurate eligibility data and determinations not only improves efficiencies, it also helps to accelerate reimbursements, greatly improving relationships and alignment.

Consider a connected payment integrity approach

Given the effect that eligibility data can have on payments, you will want to consider a connected payment integrity approach and address any gaps in your technology. Often, challenges arise from multiple sources of data, conflicting or inaccurate data, data integration challenges, manual workflows, multiple reporting systems, and more. By creating a technology environment that can support connected payment integrity functions (e.g., claims recovery, subrogation, and COB), business managers and IT can come together in their thinking and create a single, trusted source of eligibility data.

 

Contact Discovery Health Partners today to find out how we can support your payment integrity initiatives in 2020 and beyond.

1Gartner, “U.S. Healthcare Payer CIOs Must Adopt Prospective Payment Integrity to Thwart Improper Claims Payment and Fraud,” February 13, 2018.
Jeffrey MartinFixing payment integrity at the source
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Jason Brown on the road ahead for payment integrity

As the industry transitions from volume to value-based healthcare, health plans face increasing pressure to better manage costs and ensure payment integrity. We recently sat down with Jason Brown, CEO of Discovery Health Partners, to get his thoughts on recent trends and how they’re shaping the road ahead in 2020.

Healthcare continues to change and evolve. What do you see as some of the trends setting the stage for optimizing payment integrity?

Health plans face a number of challenges when it comes to ensuring the right care is provided to the right member for the right amount. Complex billing processes, changing regulations, outdated and disparate data systems, and overlapping coverage all contribute to improperly paid claims. Today, nearly a third of claims are paid incorrectly, leading to billions in administrative waste.

In 2020 and beyond, we anticipate health plans will continue to struggle with rising healthcare costs, numerous competing priorities, and a lack of resources. Furthermore, changing regulations and mandates will continue to add layers of administrative and clinical complexity to a system already bogged down in paperwork. While there is no clear path to cost containment, there are ways health plans can work toward transforming their payment integrity approaches. An example is leveraging advanced technologies to move from retrospective payment to prospective payment—by detecting improper claims before they are paid, health plans can keep costs in check, increase member satisfaction, and most importantly, cultivate healthy provider partnerships.

What are some of the ways Discovery is helping health plans address their payment integrity challenges?

This past year has been an exciting time of innovation and growth for Discovery. We have an expanded suite of payment integrity solutions—Coordination of Benefits, Subrogation, Data Mining, Clinical Audits (in areas such as diagnosis-related group (DRG) audits and itemized bill review audits) and Premium Restoration. Our integrated solutions are designed to work together. This connected approach helps optimize claims recoveries and avoid future expenses across the entire claim lifecycle while reducing provider and member abrasion.

What makes Discovery unique is that our solutions start with our clients’ own data and processes. We leverage the latest analytical tools and technology like machine learning to identify patterns that present opportunities for cost recovery and cost savings. By blending artificial intelligence with human expertise, we identify hidden errors and root causes that are often overlooked. We also provide the highest levels of support to our clients, acting as an extension of their teams, to free up their internal resources so they can focus on other business priorities.

Since its inception, Discovery has been proud to provide flexible solutions that help health plans solve their payment integrity challenges. Our newly formed Client Council provides a platform for clients to share industry insights and challenges with their peers and help drive product innovations with Discovery. Going forward, custom-tailored solutions like ours will be key to helping plans manage costs while maintaining the high levels of care that their members expect.

What’s on the horizon for Discovery in 2020?

During the past decade, we’ve demonstrated measurable success by helping our clients improve operational efficiencies, increase claims accuracy and payment, and recover dollars back to their health plans.

From 2020 forward, we will continue to evolve existing solutions and create new forward-thinking approaches to help plans prevent and recover inaccurate payments. By expanding our use of data analytics and data integration and accelerating our investments in research and technology like machine learning and predictive analytics, we will help health plans capitalize on information to coordinate claims correctly. Once individual plans reach the point where they are paying the appropriate amount for the healthcare that’s delivered, they can re-invest in clinical care for their members.

At the same time, we will position clients to transition toward a more proactive approach to cost management. Reimagining the payments process and applying insights further upstream will be key to enabling providers to take advantage of opportunities to proactively change wasteful behaviors.

And of course, we’ll continue to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry. By building partnerships with our clients, industry organizations, agencies and others to learn about best practices and stay on top of the latest trends, we can prepare clients for the challenges ahead.

 

Find out how Discovery Health Partners can help strengthen your payment integrity initiatives in 2020. Contact us today!

Jason BrownJason Brown on the road ahead for payment integrity
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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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