News: Should you assess your patients' financial health?

March 1, 2009

As the burden of uncompensated care mounts, some companies are offering credit histories to help screen prospective patients and collect overdue bills.

As the burden of uncompensated care mounts, some companies are offering credit histories to help hospitals and physicians screen prospective patients and collect overdue bills, reports American Medical News (1/19/09). Hospitals (currently the major clients) can use the detailed history of payments on credit cards, car loans, and mortgages to run a "financial triage" when a patient is to have a procedure or treatment to determine whether he or she probably qualifies for charity programs, self-pay discounts, or government assistance. The analysis of the individual's financial past also can help to determine which patients are most likely to pay a bill, focusing collection efforts on those individuals.

SearchAmerica, which provides credit information to about 500 hospitals, is planning to release a "light" version of the program that will be affordable for physicians. Other companies offering information on individuals' creditworthiness include Connance and nTelagent, which uses predictive modeling to analyze data from real estate records, census data, and public records; the company began serving its first physician customers in the last quarter of 2008.