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HealthData Talks: Accounts Receivable Archiving

In this episode of HealthData Talks, Shannon Larkin, and Amanda Alth, Implementation Specialist at Harmony Healthcare IT, talk specifically about archiving for financial systems with AR wind down.

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[00:00:02.568] – [00:00:57.452]

Welcome to HealthData Talks where industry experts offer bite sized tips and trends for managing legacy data. Thank you for joining us. I’m Shannon Larkin with Harmony Healthcare IT. And as most of you know, at Harmony, our primary focus is helping hospitals to decommission legacy systems. And those system types range from electronic health records to billing systems to enterprise resource planning software. So today, I’ve asked Amanda Alth an Implementation Specialist at Harmony to join us because I want to talk specifically about active archiving for financial systems. So, thanks for taking time to be here today. Amanda, thanks Shannon. I’m happy to join. Awesome because I think you’re the perfect person to talk to us about archiving when there are still accounts receivable to collect.


[00:00:58.689] – [00:01:39.454]

So, can you just share a little bit about your background and what you do at Harmony to get us started here? Absolutely. I’m an Implementation Specialist and my specialty is revenue cycle. Back end revenue cycle is my passion. And when I talk about back end, that means anything pulsed your billing, anything that has to do at the end of the revenue cycle, I like to cut those payments work denials and all of that I have an HFMA which is the Health Care Funding Management Association certification as a revenue cycle representative. I also have an MBA in healthcare administration. In the last 12 years. I’ve been working in both as a vendor and I have been the client as well. Oh, yeah, I love that, that you are both a vendor and a client. I think there’s always value when someone like you has been on both sides.


[00:01:42.959] – [00:03:30.955]

So, and with that, then talk to us about managing legacy A/R and like what is driving these account receivable teams to wind down A/R from an archive versus, you know, the actual billing system they’ve been using. It’s all about system transitions. A lot of health organizations are now ready to transition to a new accounting system and decommission their legacy systems. They’ve spent years and millions of dollars so they can meet federal electronic health record mandates and what’s critical during that transition to a new EHR is understanding the nuances and balancing and the need to manage historical accounts receivable with increased regulations related to patient privacy. And then billing, you need to have a strategic approach to managing legacy patient accounts post EHR and the conversation for that is key. I’m sure it is. You, you’ve always got to keep your eye on collecting the money, right? I mean, that definitely is key. That’s exactly right. And a lot of these organizations now are looking at that no one ever really looks at revenue cycle. You know, healthcare executives are so focused now on accelerating the cash migrating revenue cycle performance risk. And to do that, we help them identify strategies to access and manage legacy accounts and receivable data. There are federal and state regulations and guidelines that define time frames for retaining patient accounting data. And I think it’s 10 years, but certain states have different regulations. It’s very important that health care organizations understand the functional capabilities that an archiving system can offer them to meet those requirements. The great thing is at Harmony, we can make that very easy for you. So, now you’re doing my job as a marketer. That’s right. I mean, I think we can make it easy.


[00:03:32.679] – [00:04:44.579]

So, talk to us about how we do that because I mean, why not just keep the legacy rev cycle system up and running to wind down accounts receivable? It almost seems like that could be easier than moving it to an archive. It really comes down to managing cost versus risk, old production revenue cycle systems can be expensive to keep up and running for the time it will take to collect on those receivables, especially when you’re not billing any new claims out of that system. At Harmony we help reduce the cost of legacy system support and maintenance. It’s much more cost efficient to collect out of an archive solution. So, we’re enabling account resolution during the system transition and we’re ensuring that record retention compliance once receivables wind down and the records are stored for you long term. When it comes to risk, our HealthData AR Manager solution is HITRUST certified. We’re also fortifying defenses against cybersecurity threats. Your protected health information is really locked down and safe for all the years ahead that needs to be retained. Yeah, those are good points. I mean, and great reasons I guess to consider winding down A/R in an archive versus keeping the legacy system up and running because the cost can really run high.


[00:04:46.858] – [00:05:29.209]

So, if a hospital wants to consider an active archive for A/R wind down, like what is the best timing for that to make a transition to a new system? Ideally, you are working with your partner vendor like Harmony, I would say 12 months prior to go live. That means execute a contract between us to lay out the foundation for a seamless revenue cycle management system transition. It is critical to kick off an A/R wind down project at least a year in advance. I would definitely recommend that all legacy error account placements should begin four months prior to the go live date to allow enough time to begin the cleanup efforts and cash acceleration for the aged accounts that you’re going to be working.


[00:05:30.619] – [00:06:16.100]

So, what do you mean by you, you mentioned A/R account placements. What is that? When I say A/R account placements, I mean, the placement process continues monthly until about three months. Post-go-live. By that time, the large majority of those aged receivables will be worked and processed to allow maximum cash acceleration during a concentrated time period. You want to collect that money as fast as possible. This time timeline will allow for clean and smooth entry into your new A/R system. It will also allow your SMEs and staff adequate time to focus on training and preparing efforts without having to work aged receivables from legacy system. They don’t need to be looking at that while they’re also transitioning to a new system. Got it. That makes sense.


[00:06:17.699] – [00:08:23.699]

Can you describe then the various archiving solutions that are available to wind down legacy A/R? Absolutely. Harmony has been working with healthcare organizations to wind down A/R for years. So, we have many tools offered to meet our clients’ needs. After doing some discovery, we propose solutions based on their facility type and how much they have of the outstanding accounts receivable. We do offer actually, it’s four solutions. We can just take it the data just static out of your revenue cycle system and it would just be a look back that way you could go back and see accounts and everything that would that happened at static date. For transaction posting module, it’s actually a way for you to post anything like self-pay balances or maybe you have to post against the GL it’s just for a very small A/R and accounts receivable, that means that your A/R has to be very low. I would say like probably anything like in the $25,000 range, just something very, very minimal. You don’t have a lot of SMEs working in that. I’m sorry to interrupt you. But so far you’re describing almost a stair step approach. It’s like you’re not going to collect anything. We take a snapshot, it’s in HealthData Archiver. And then the next step is, well, if you still do have a little bit to collect, at least you’re only posting transactions that are coming in like you say, like patient pay or something. That’s correct. So far, so good. Ok. So then what’s the next step? The next step? Yeah, absolutely. The next step is our collection agency management and that gets layered with your transaction posting module. So, you’re adding your patient balances and self-pay, but you’re also adding a collection agency interface with that. So, with a collection agency management piece, we’re actually interfacing and taking payments from an agency and they come over and post automatically into the account. So, you’re actually managing your outsourced collection agencies, right? Within HealthData Archiver. Nice. Ok. Very good.


[00:08:27.660] – [00:09:57.219]

And then is there another layer? Like what if, what if I do have just a lot of accounts receivables left? But maybe my contract renewal is coming up on my rev cycle system. I mean, that’s probably the heavier lift like at the hospital level when they need to do some major collections and rebuilding. Absolutely. And that’s our HealthData AR Manager It has a lot of great functionality. You’re able to manage more complex A/R wind down after the financial legacy system is decommissioned. So, your SMEs and billing staff can continue to collection efforts by reflecting 837s if they need it and receiving 835s. You also can manage your collection agency workflows while maintaining your predefined interfaces. We also do GL interfaces and another great quality about AR manager is that we do build work lists and we also have the EOBs and your voucher history and all your payment information right, within the application. So, your SMEs are not looking to other tools like other insurance companies. Everything you need to do is built right into the app. So, it doesn’t take your SMEs a lot of time to get their work done. It also provides the ability to send statements as well as post payments adjustments, memos and we also do refunds. And then it comes with a great list of standard reports. Right. So that’s, that’s a lot. I mean, that’s almost like learning a new system, but at least you’re only going to use it.


[00:09:59.239] – [00:10:26.940]

How long would you say a team on average? I’m sure it varies from team to team. But how long would they use this system before everything gets wound down to zero? And then it is truly archived to meet the retention, you know, guidelines you were mentioning earlier. You would really want to have everything done. I would say at least 6 to 9 and stretching out to 12 before you would want to be fully static, and that means that all of your accounts from your transition would be paid.


[00:10:28.788] – [00:11:32.009]

So, within a year and you mentioned some of the interfaces like GL and I would imagine when you’re using HealthData AR Manager to rebuild claims, you would need to maintain those interfaces that were in place with the legacy system. What are some other interfaces? We’ve worked with a bunch of I would say your clearing houses and your scrubbers and that would be for an 837 claim to go out to the payer. We also do 835s that come in from maybe Workman’s Comp or whatever your priority is that comes in manually posts. We also do the lockbox and then we also do any type of interfaces with Workman’s Comp or your collection agencies. Got it, got it. That’s really a great solution. And like you said earlier, you know, you get all that functionality, and you really are decreasing the cost and the risk by decommissioning that legacy software and all of its infrastructure. That’s right. Great.


[00:11:34.308] – [00:12:03.529]

Well, Amanda, thank you so much for sharing your expertise on how we help our clients to wind down A/R. I appreciate you being here. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time too and to our listeners. Thank you for joining us and be sure to tune in next time for another discussion about legacy and health data management. That’s it for this session of HealthData Talks Check out helpful resources at harmonyhit.com and follow us in your favorite podcast app.



Shannon Larkin, VP of Marketing and Business Development at Harmony Healthcare IT, utilizes her 25+ years of health IT experience to connect healthcare organizations with a team of experts that consolidate and modernize data storage to reduce cost and risk.Guest
Amanda Alth, Implementation Specialist at Harmony Healthcare IT, is passionate revenue cycle leader with 13 years of experience as both vendor and client. Amanda has a master’s degree in business with a healthcare concentration and a CRCR (certified revenue cycle representative) from HFMA. She specializes in back-end revenue cycle processes. In her spare time, you can find her coaching her daughters cheerleading squad and cheering on her boys in football.


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