Ackerman Cancer Center, founded in 1997, is the first physician-owned proton therapy center and North Florida’s only independent radiation oncology practice.Every day Ackerman’s expert radiation oncologists, social workers, nurses, therapists, dieticians, and psychologists connect directly with patients and caregivers. The center’s independence allows clinicians to collaborate with referring physicians across the region to develop personalized treatment plans. This approach yields a level of trust that’s hard to replicate — and impossible to replace.
Ackerman’s mission is to deliver the highest-quality personalized cancer care: from patient intake, through clinical care delivery, and to the conclusion of the patient’s financial experience. In May 2020, before they discovered Unlimited Systems, the Ackerman Cancer Center leadership team reviewed their financial systems. They concluded that their current technology was not aligned with the goals of their overall mission. Increasing patient volume continued to drive cumbersome manual work (and rework).Inefficiency and underperformance, including tasks such as insurance eligibility and authorization, claim entry, and payment posting was unsustainable.
Wasteful revenue cycle processes are common and result in costly manual work, excess repetitive labor, and the propagation of defects to downstream departments and teams. “We were looking for a solution that has great analytics, that is intuitive, and reduces waste,” said Vicki Reich, COO. “Half of all denials in healthcare are front-end denials, so that’s registration, eligibility, authorizations, and referrals.”
Ackerman Cancer Center sought to:
Streamline their revenue cycle process
Eliminate manual administrative work
Improve first-pass clean claim submissions
Simplify complex revenue-cycle tasks related to oncology
Deliver a positive patient experience
Ackerman chose Unlimited Systems as its new partner after a thorough search for a new revenue cycle solution. One of the most significant selling points was Unlimited’s deep experience in specialty healthcare revenue cycle, where claims and reimbursement processing are the most complicated to manage, particularly in oncology care.
Real-time eligibility and preauthorization:Rules-driven, real-time insurance eligibility now automatically verifies patient insurance eligibility and secures insurance authorization prior to the patient’s visit.Staff is prepared for financial conversations before the patient’s arrival and equipped to eliminate frustrating treatment delays.
Automated charge capture and claim scrubbing:Automated charge capture and claim scrubbing identify coding errors that previously impacted revenue integrity and reimbursement. Carrier-specific rules and edits ensure that claims are complete and accurate, dramatically improving Ackerman’s first-pass clean claims rate while reducing claim rejections and time-consuming rework. This feature is vital with costly radiation and chemotherapy treatments, scenarios where one mistake can result in thousands of dollars in lost charges.
Automated payment posting:Accurate payment posting is critical to the financial health of the practice. Unlimited System’s automated payment posting and remittance processing solution provides Ackerman insight into its daily revenue stream to intercept costly payment issues and proactively implement corrective action. This robust automation reduces manual administrative tasks and paper handling.Outcome
Today, Ackerman has a fully automated revenue cycle. “The beauty of Unlimited Systems is that they have 17 years of experience in oncology and oncology billing,” said Reich. “Unlimited does a great job of tying the front end of the revenue cycle to the mid-cycle and end cycle.”Measurable increase in efficiency:Reich is proud of the outcomes they have been able to achieve since implementing Unlimited Systems:
63% reduction in adjustments for National Correct Code Initiative edits
77% reduction in adjustments due to eligibility and authorization errors
55% decrease in A/R days.
“Since we’ve implemented Unlimited Systems, we’ve been able to automate our insurance eligibility process significantly,” said Authorization Coordinator Zoe Lyon-Goldman “It takes us about half the amount of time to verify all of our patient’s insurance; prior to their upcoming appointment.”
Streamlined processes:Patient volume increased — as the result of opening a new location — Ackerman did not need to add new staff. Staff found additional time to focus on high-value activities. “Since we’ve had Unlimited Systems, payment posting is a lot quicker and more efficient,” said Taylor Burmeister, Cash Application Specialist. “It makes my life so much easier. I have more time in the workday to take on more responsibilities.”
Patient satisfaction:A cancer diagnosis can be emotionally and financially taxing. Billing and charge transparency is always important, but in oncology, surprise charges can be devastating.Elizabeth Augustini, Financial Resource Coordinator, puts it this way: “I had a patient who did not have insurance coverage, and the last thing we wanted was to add to his stress level. I was able to explain his out-of-pocket cost, which relieved the stress of not knowing. There were absolutely no surprises. It was all in front of him and easy to understand.”
“I appreciate the intuitiveness,” Reich said. “It’s a smart system. I appreciate that my team doesn’t spend so much time in manual steps, and quite frankly, they’re too smart for that. That is not how I want my team to spend their time.”