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Craneware Supports Hospitals' Compliance and Upfront Collections with Accurate Estimates
Date:5/28/2009

Craneware's Patient Charge Estimator(TM) Gives Patients Visibility into Treatment Costs before Receiving Services

ATLANTA, May 28 /PRNewswire/ -- In today's economy, with the high number of uninsured and underinsured Americans, increasingly high deductibles and co-payments, plus growth in consumer-driven health plans, such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) -- more patients are responsible for their own healthcare costs. As a result, hospitals seek better ways to provide visibility into treatment costs prior to service. Setting patients' expectations in advance on procedures and costs helps hospitals improve patient satisfaction, increase upfront collections, and reduce bad debt, which enables them to better serve their communities.

Families USA, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans, estimates that 86.7 million Americans were uninsured for some period of time between 2007 and 2008. And, according to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), another 8 million Americans are now covered by HSA-eligible insurance plans. These sources indicate a dramatic increase in the number of consumers responsible for their own healthcare service selection and payment.

Both federal and state governments are broadly recognizing the issue. On May 5, 2009, the U.S. Congress introduced the Health Care Transparency Promotion Act of 2009, a bipartisan bill that directs states to establish laws requiring disclosure of information on hospital charges. It also would require hospitals and health plans to make information on hospital charges available to the public, and to provide individuals with information about estimated out-of-pocket costs for healthcare services. Currently, 37 state legislatures have passed some form of legislation regarding pricing transparency.

Early in 2009, St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, Maine, began using Craneware's Patient Charge Estimator to assist with upfront collections, improve cash flow and enhance patient satisfaction. "Before we implemented the software from Craneware, price quotes were difficult for us to handle -- involving spreadsheets and phone calls to medical records," said Lisa Killam, St. Joseph's reimbursement charge supervisor. "In the last five years, we've seen a dramatic increase in demand for price quotes from patients who need to know what a procedure is going to cost. Now, we're able to provide this information efficiently. Patient satisfaction has been a big benefit. Patients are so happy we can give this information to them on the spot - usually with no call back. Beyond answering questions, we look forward to giving patients pricing information in advance, so they know what to expect and can settle their account upfront."

"As consumers become increasingly cost-conscious, healthcare organizations need to better manage the entire patient experience, even before services are performed," said Jim Wilson, president of Craneware, Inc. "With increasing financial responsibility being placed on the patient, accurate service estimation can make the difference in the healthcare provider a patient selects. Patient Charge Estimator can generate instant and accurate procedure estimates which can increase patient satisfaction, as well as dramatically enhance collections processes so hospitals can better serve their communities."

Patient Charge Estimator aids hospital employees in supplying accurate price information. It empowers staff to provide a total estimated charge, including an average, median, high, and low estimate based on pricing from the hospital's own claims data and/or contracts. This kind of estimate accounts for as many treatment variables as possible and presents costs in a meaningful, defensible and comparable way. It gives staff data to help educate patients on which procedures different circumstances may require. This helps consumers ensure they compare "apples to apples", understand potential additional charges associated with treatment and have fitting expectations for hospital billing.

While consumers seek better visibility into costs, hospitals are also looking to safeguard cash flow, maintain compliance and reduce bad debt. With the Patient Charge Estimator, hospitals can readily respond to the growing number of guarantors, patients and clinicians asking for price estimates on inpatient and outpatient procedures. Estimates are based on each hospital's historical claims data, chargemaster files, managed care contracts and patient-provided insurance information. Fully customizable estimate letters can be generated in English and Spanish. Estimates are stored for future reference. Saved estimates can be edited, while maintaining a record of tracked changes within the audit trail feature, for enhanced operational efficiency and compliance.

Craneware will demonstrate Patient Charge Estimator on May 27 - 30, 2009 at the annual meeting of The National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM). NAHAM is the only national professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in the management of patient access services in all areas of the healthcare delivery system. To learn more about Patient Charge Estimator, stop by booth 508 for a demonstration.

About Craneware

Craneware, Inc. (AIM: CRW.L) partners with U.S. healthcare organizations to improve returns, increase productivity and manage risk, driving better financial and operational performance using market-led revenue management solutions. By enhancing revenue capture processes, Craneware solutions enable healthcare organizations to optimize reimbursement, improve operational efficiency, and support compliance. Visit craneware.com.


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SOURCE Craneware, Inc.
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