ACU-Serve tackles front of house

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Friday, August 30, 2019

AKRON, Ohio – ACU-Serve can now take on what company officials say is the “hardest job” for HME providers: intake.

The company, which has been focused on billing and collections, has expanded into intake services, hiring Linda Czekanski as director of intake and training. She already manages a staff of about 50 intake and document management staff.

“When it comes to accounts receivable, if you know what’s going on with the front of the house, you know why you have to clean up the back of the house,” said Czekanski. “You can see the entire picture.”
Czekanski has worked with multiple organizations, including Walgreens Sleep and Respiratory Services, where she implemented an “order to cash” process in 25-plus locations. Also on her resume: Air Products Healthcare and MedCare Equipment Company.

It makes sense to add intake services, but ACU-Serve “kind of got forced into it” when a hospital-based provider couldn’t get their DSO and denial rates down, despite working with ACU-Serve on billing and collections, says Jim Knight, partner and CEO.

“The turnover in their intake department was hurting them—and us,” he said. “They were losing close to $1 million a year. If we didn’t fix it, they were going to get rid of that line of business.”

ACU-Serve took over the provider’s intake; within a year, they were break even; and now they’re profitable, Knight says.

“That’s why we got into it—we saw how much of a need there was for it,” he said. “It’s the fastest growing segment of our business right now.”

Providers find it difficult to hire and train intake staff, because the positions are typically low pay and high stress, and in smaller cities the talent pool is shallow, Knight says.

“It’s the hardest job function to hire and train,” he said.

ACU-Serve has found it easier to build an intake staff using a work-from-home model. The company hires staff from all over the country, sending them an “office in a box” that contains three monitors, a small device with no hard drive and a phone, Knight says.

“There are a lot of displaced employees due to consolidation, and we’ve been able to tap into that with our model,” he said.

ACU-Serve can also take more of a process-driven approach to intake with a proprietary dashboard that, among other things, ties job functions to denials, Knight says.

“Fifty percent of claims need to be rebilled,” he said. “And from one denial code there can be up to 15 different reasons why that occurred. If you’re not tying back to what actions actually happened, you’re losing a lot of information that’s useful to fixing the problem.”