Cost-cutting committee continues chore

Published 10:26 am Saturday, August 14, 2010

Staff Writer

A committee tasked with looking for additional revenue-increasing and cost-cutting measures at Beaufort Regional Health System continued its work Friday, focusing on proposals to review patient charts to scan for unreported medical conditions and speed up payments for hospital services.
The committee also discussed ways to generate revenue by leasing hospital-owned space to outside vendors as called for in a three-page log of cost-cutting and revenue-enhancement measures approved earlier this year by the BRHS Board of Commissioners.
BRHS is seeking proposals from vendors interested in operating a gift shop in the space, off the front lobby, currently occupied by the coffee shop, Susan Gerard, BRHS acting CEO told the committee.
BRHS also has received proposals from businesses interested in leasing the space formerly occupied by the Zach Waters surgical practice, Gerard said.
A list of cost-cutting and revenue-enhancement measures developed by consultant John A. Schrull and approved by the BRHS board earlier this year identified $54,000 in short-term savings by the closure of the coffee shop and $85,000 in short-term savings by the closure of the Waters surgical practice.
“We need to proceed aggressively with these proposals,” said Hood Richardson, chairman of the committee.
Richardson is a member of the BRHS Board of Commissioners and the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.
BRHS also is developing a plan to reinstate an employee suggestion box that would reward employees whose ideas result in cost-savings for the system, Gerard told the committee.
Schrull’s report estimated a short-term cost savings of at least $25,000 from that action.
BRHS is seeking proposals from 14 potential merger partners, including Greenville-based University Health Systems of Eastern North Carolina and 13 for-profit systems based in Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.
Concurrently, it is seeking ways to improve its financial situation.
The committee continued its investigation of proposals to help BRHS recoup more money for patient care through a review of patient charts and collect some of its unpaid bills.
During Friday’s meeting, the committee heard a report from Mary P. Phelps, a coding expert with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The committee talked with Phelps about clinical oversight of patient records and ways to improve BRHS billing practices.
Much of the discussion was held behind closed doors because of the proprietary nature of the proposals from the firm and because some of the proposals would affect BRHS personnel.
The committee also is considering a proposal from BCE Technology to train doctors to improve the documentation of their care for patients and a proposal from Healthcare Fiscal Management of Williamston to help BRHS collect some of its unpaid bills.