Panel continues revenue-related efforts

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Staff Writer

A committee tasked with looking for additional revenue-increasing and cost-cutting measures at Beaufort Regional Health System continued its work Monday, giving the OK for BRHS to contract for a review of patient charts to scan for unreported medical conditions.
The committee also discussed ways to combat misconceptions about health-care services available through BRHS and the need for people to pay for those services.
“There is the perception in the community that you don’t have to pay for services,” said Hood Richardson, chairman of the committee. Richardson is a member of the BRHS Board of Commissioners and the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners. “And we need to combat that misconception.”
A “point-of-service” collection system for patients seen in the emergency room at Beaufort County Medical Center, formerly Beaufort County Hospital, will be in place in about two weeks, according to Chris Riggs, BRHS chief finance officer.
The hospital has initiated an educational campaign designed to direct nonemergency patients to health-care providers such as Inner Banks Urgent Care, the Agape Community Health Center and primary-care doctors in the community that can better meet their health-care needs, Pam Shadle, BRHS public information officer, told the committee.
BRHS is working to combat the misconception that primary-care doctors in Beaufort County are not accepting new patients, according to Susan Gerard, acting chief executive officer.
New patients are being accepted at BRHS-affiliated local practices including Chocowinity Family Care, Pamlico Internal Medicine and Washington Family Medicine Center, she said.
“All of our primary-care practices are accepting new patients,” Gerard told the committee.
BRHS is seeking proposals from 14 potential merger partners, including Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern North Carolina and nine for-profit systems in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.
In the meantime, it is seeking ways to improve its financial situation.
The committee gave the go-ahead for BRHS administrators to sign a contract with BCE Technology to help the medical center recoup more money for patient care through a review of patient charts
With corporate headquarters in Clearwater, Fla., BCE Technology trains doctors to improve the documentation of their care for patients, which helps improve hospital reimbursement for services.
After reviewing other companies that perform similar services, BCE Technology “is the better option, Riggs said. “I feel like that’s the way to go.”
This week, Healthcare Fiscal Management of Williamston will present a new proposal to help BRHS collect some of its unpaid bills because some of the information included in a proposal recently made to the committee included incorrect information about billing systems at BRHS, Riggs told the committee.
Under the proposal, Healthcare Fiscal Management would be paid a commission based on a percentage of the money collected once the money owed BRHS is paid, said Nathan Sauers, spokesman for Healthcare Fiscal Management.
A representative of the company, in a previous presentation to the committee, had declined to make much of the information in his plan available to the public — including the cost of his proposal — stating that it included “proprietary information.”
The committee also reviewed a three-page log of cost-cutting and revenue enhancement measures approved earlier this year by the BRHS Board of Commissioners.
Many of the items on the three-page list have already been implemented and some — such as the transfer of Lifeline services to the private sector — cannot be implemented because of contract obligations, Gerard told the committee.
The panel is scheduled to meet again Friday morning.