Health Information Management

Survey shows RAC preparations well under way despite budget issues

HIM-HIPAA Insider, December 1, 2009

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Budgets are tight, but many healthcare providers appear to be aware that setting aside resources to prepare for RAC audits is non-negotiable.
HCPro’s Revenue Cycle Institute examined this concept as a part of its recent nationwide survey of RAC readiness. The study, which was released in October, included more than 700 participants from all four RAC jurisdictions. The respondents hailed from various size healthcare providers: 25% came from hospitals with fewer than 100 beds, another 25% came from hospitals with more than 400 beds, with the remaining 50% falling in between. Approximately 14% of respondents had taken part in the RAC demonstration project.

“Respondents seem to have their RAC preparations well under way, although it’s not surprising that they are struggling with resources to devote to preparation,” according to Kimberly Anderwood Hoy, JD, CPC, director of Medicare and compliance at HCPro, and author of the “RAC Preparedness Benchmarking Report,” which details the full results of the survey.

“Providers appear to be crunched for resources to provide to the RAC team, with 50% indicating that departments are just absorbing RAC costs into their current budgets,” Hoy wrote in the report. “This may be driving the relatively high number of respondents using homegrown software and tools for risk assessment. Software for tracking requests is a bit of a different story, with providers split roughly equally between homegrown methods and third-party vendor software.”

A surprisingly high number of respondents said they already had a RAC preparedness program in place (71%). Providers with heightened awareness of the RAC initiative may have been more likely to respond to the survey, inflating that number, according to Hoy. Programs generally appear to still be in their early stages. Of respondents with a program in place, 85% started in the past year, and more than 50% started in the past six months.

“As providers begin to receive routine RAC requests, the teams will undoubtedly continue to develop and become more sophisticated,” Hoy says.

To download a free copy of the “RAC Preparedness Benchmarking Report,” visit the Revenue Cycle Institute Web site and click on the “White Papers” link at the top of the page.

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