Don't ignore unbilled discharges

Hospitals need to keep an eye on their discharged not final billed (DNFB) rates, lest they erode their bottom lines, reported HealthLeaders Media.

DNFB can be linked to a number of causes, including poor or slow coding of a final bill, bills delayed due to pre-auditing review, or poor interdepartment review systems, according to the article.

The issue can extend further if patients cannot be located after discharge--a problem that is bedeviling rural hospitals in North Dakota, for instance. Although the economy is booming due to oil exploration, the region is being besieged by oil field workers who have migrated from other areas for jobs and may not have regular addresses to bill after being treated, according to The New York Times.

To keep incorrectly coded or incomplete bills from falling between the cracks, hospitals need to foster close working relationships between their health information and business offices, noted HealthLeaders.

With that in mind, North Dakota's McKenzie County Hospital recently installed new tracking software to keep tabs on patients after they leave--a response to its uncompensated care burden growing 20-fold over the past four years, the Times noted.

To learn more:
- read the HealthLeaders article
- here's the New York Times article