Get it right the first time

Published 2:38 pm Friday, January 21, 2011

There is no doubt that operating a hospital in this economic environment is challenging and requires financial ingenuity.

I regret the recent loss of jobs at Memorial Hospital in an attempt to improve the bottom line.

Our communities deserve adequate, if not excellent, medical care from our medical facilities in times of emergency or illness. This requires balancing the cost of sufficient staff, necessary supplies and overhead expenses against the collectible accounts receivable.

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I have one suggestion that I know will help. More attention must be paid to the coding department of the hospital billing office.

My sister and I have worked in the medical field for years. We did the “right thing” and scheduled screening colonoscopies at Bainbridge Memorial Hospital. We are both insured and verified before the procedure that this particular screening was a covered service as long as it was billed or coded properly as “screening.”

Long story short, in both cases the hospital was not paid for several months because the coding numbers used for billing were incorrectly filed for a “diagnostic” procedure instead of a “screening.”

I repetitively brought this to the attention of several departments of the hospital before it was resolved. There was a lot of finger pointing as to blame.

My point is, if the hospital is suffering from financial loss, educating the appropriate staff regarding proper coding of procedures could help prompt collection of monies due (in my case, more than $1,000). Instead of wasting time and money sending out erroneous bills, get it right the first time and by all means collect insurance money promptly when available, by using the correct code.

I can only assume my sister and me are not isolated cases … you do the math!

Lindy Harrell, M.D.
Climax, Ga.