(Before I continue with SHS' story, I'd like ask financial leaders to pause and do a mental assessment of your billing offices workflow. Do you notice people milling about photocopying and faxing? In the age of Internet technology, the one supply you should see on decline is paper. If not, you may have a process problem. Now back to SHS.)
"We started to look at all the technology that could help us and I thought, 'Do I want an imaging solution?' I have no patience, so I wanted a short set-up time," says Buell. After several months of comparing technologies, SHS selected a payment management and imaging system from OptumInsight. Buell used operational funds to purchase the technology, bypassing the capital expense budget and the need for board approval, which expedited the overall process. In less than 30 days, the program went live at the SHS CBO.
"When folks approach this [type of project] they see huge dollars, and so did I. [We] worked through this and looked at the potential return on investment—we modeled it. What we found was we'd have ROI within one year—and the system did pay for itself in that time. Operationally we saw the benefit within 60 days," says Buell.
The elimination of so much manual work, and so much paper, had a positive effect on morale and the bottom line, she says. The staff quickly latched on to the system and payments were posted swiftly; now unposted cash averages one A/R day, or just $4 million. Plus, within a year the SHS CBO was able to reduce the number of staff overtime hours, reallocate seven FTEs, and save $224,000 in temporary agency fees.