Purpose-built technology is the answer

By Greg O’Loan*
Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Purpose-built technology is the answer

Financial management for aged-care facilities is complex, further complicated by ongoing legislative changes. Technology can ease the burden.

The aged-care sector has experienced significant changes. Keeping pace with these changes can be a challenge, but it’s essential for providers that want to compete and grow in the long term.

The key challenges relate to governance, compliance and costs in a complex marketplace that is also characterised by increasing amounts of consumer choice and control. Providers need to respond to a broad range of care needs, bill for these accurately and appropriately, and work with various bodies such as Medicare to manage rebates and claims. Trying to manage all of these processes manually can be a recipe for disaster. At best, it creates a burdensome workload that prevents innovation and inflates costs. At worst, it can lead to errors and inaccuracies that can culminate in a failure to comply with legislation.

Purpose-built technology is the answer

Aged-care providers should therefore consider technology solutions that are purpose-built for this evolving legislative and operational environment. The best way to truly mitigate risk, save time and money, and drive innovation is to choose a platform provided by a vendor that has invested in keeping pace with changing legislations and Medicare’s online claiming system.

For example, the Living Longer Living Better reforms include requirements to track means-tested care fees, apply annual lifetime caps and accurately calculate accommodation supplements based on supported resident ratios. Therefore, providers can benefit from a solution that automatically processes and submits online claiming events to Medicare.

A key issue that many providers face is the discrepancy between expected government funding and actual funding. Accounting for these discrepancies manually is complicated. A technology solution that uses resident information to calculate expected funding, allows for any necessary reconciliations due to received funding discrepancies and carries forward adjustments indefinitely can make this task easier and more streamlined. Funding adjustments can be created automatically based on payment details from Medicare Online Claiming and, once the reconciliation is complete, the actual funding can be posted.

Furthermore, providers need to be able to allocate different billing schedules and change or add billing codes within those schedules, to a single client accommodation combination, or to assign different billing requirements for independent living, aged care and community care. Basic daily care fees, monthly service fees, rent, deferred management fees and other charges should also be contained in the same system, which should automatically calculate subsidies from Medicare to avoid potential errors.

Ensuring financial integrity

Beyond these industry-specific complexities, aged-care providers depend on a strong general ledger that protects the integrity of financial data with accounting controls and system security. Effective financial management, regardless of specific legislative requirements, depends on a smart solution for managing general financials and accounts payable and receivable.

Accounts payable and receivable are critical to manage cash flow. However, many organisations find it difficult to manage these processes effectively if they rely on manual processes. These processes lend themselves to automation, which saves time and reduces the risk of errors. Managing these processes more effectively gives the organisation more control over cash flow.

It can also help manage relationships with customers and suppliers more positively. For example, some aged-care clients need their bills to be sent to other contacts such as their children. To avoid unnecessary queries or confusion they require those bills to be accurately itemised. Automating this process lets providers give the clients and their families a better experience.

Aged-care providers that can simplify complexity with purpose-built technology solutions are likely to be better positioned to compete effectively even in the face of changing legislation. This means they can easily get fit for the growth they want to achieve.

*Greg O’Loan is Regional Vice President, Epicor ANZ.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/EtiAmmos

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