GALLIPOLIS — The merger of Holzer Clinic and Holzer Medical Center earlier this year is expected to result in improvements to patient care. Officials say there will also be some significant changes to patients’ medical bills.
As independent entities, the partners that formed the new health system originally had separate billing systems. An effort is under way to unify the billing, but it is not known exactly when that goal will be reached.
“Currently, patients are receiving bills from the clinic and hospital separately,” said Karrie Swain Davison, Holzer Communications Coordinator. “We are steadily moving toward having one billing system, to better accommodate our patients.”
Although the merger occurred at the end of March, the organization is still having some logistical challenges with the process of coming together, according to Holzer CEO Dr. T. Wayne Munro.
Munro explained that not only are the billing systems out of sync, but Holzer Clinic and Holzer Medical Center were working from two completely different information technology (IT) systems.
“We are moving to one system and one bill very soon,” Munro said.
He said a big area of focus initially was to get the two IT systems to talk to each other. The installation of a new system in the hospital next month may further complicate the issue. So, at this point, the time line for the billing change remains uncertain.
“We are working in that direction,” Munro said. “It may be another six months before we get there.”
Changes are also anticipated for those patients who need assistance paying their bills. Currently, Holzer Health System provides more than $1 million worth of charity care each month according to Board Chairman Brent Saunders. He said that level of charity care is something that will continue into the future.
However, the current financial assistance policy for Holzer Health System applies only to acute care for patients. The organization is seeking to expand the scope of the program.
“There is an application process for assistance, which does include an income stipulation, as well as various other requirements,” Davison explained. “Since our integration, we are working toward a universal policy and procedure that would apply to acute care, as well as the physician services.”
Davison said the financial assistance policy and procedure is in place to help eligible patients “achieve payment for our services in a way that is feasible for their income level”.
Holzer officials did not indicate when financial assistance will become available for physician services.