After your organization implements a new patient accounting system, your staff still have to work down the AR from your legacy system. If you must continue to operate (and pay for) the legacy system you’ve just replaced to do so, you’re taking a significant hit to the return on your new investment. It’s a recurring hit, too, as it can take years to zero out your books. And, by keeping legacy applications that have outlived vendor support, you’re increasing your organization’s exposure to risk.
A data management plan is crucial to a successful, cost-effective system implementation. Having spent quite a bit of time managing healthcare billing departments before becoming a project manager for our financial data customers, I’ve compiled a few tips to help make sure the transition is a smooth one when it’s time for your organization to implement a new patient accounting system:
Start planning early! As soon as you’re thinking about implementing a new patient accounting system, you should also be thinking about how you’ll manage the legacy data from your old systems. Deploying an active archiving solution will allow you to continue to work down your AR so that you’ll be able to turn off those legacy systems, minimizing risks while maximizing the investment you’ve made in that new system.
Identify the internal staff resources and data owners who need to be involved and keep them engaged throughout the project.
Create a realistic timeline. Determine your legacy system(s) support ending date and work backwards. You’ll also want to look at your organization’s activity levels throughout the year so that you can avoid implementing during your busiest months.
Make sure all bills are final bills. Whether you’re transitioning to a static or active archive, it’s important that the data is complete and final.
Secure balancing reports from the legacy system at the point the system goes into archive in order to ensure the data is balanced and truly the system of truth.
Make sure data structures are compatible between your systems. Make sure your archive solution is prepared to receive your legacy data and that your legacy data is as clean as possible.
Practice the conversion and archiving functionality on test sets. When it comes to migrating data, a little work upfront goes a long way to ensure the actual migration goes off without a hitch.
Build a business case for an active archiving solution. Storing your legacy data is required to comply with records retention policies and federal and state regulations. Moving this legacy financial data to an active archival solution that allows you to continue work with your AR provides up to an 80% savings when compared to operating your new system and your legacy system in parallel.
If you’re thinking about a new system – whether it’s clinical or financial – make sure you’re also thinking about your data and the experience of those you’ll partner with to manage it, now and in the future.
About the Author:
MediQuant Strategic Consultant Cindy Adkins manages logistics for patient accounting implementations. With extensive knowledge of the intricacies of physician and hospital billing departments, Cindy brings more than 35 years of leadership and operational experience in patient financial service objectives and expertise in financial management, hospital and physician revenue-cycle management – including electronic billing, financial reporting, auditing and internal controls – as well as systems implementation.