Prevent Invoice Disputes from Becoming an Epidemic in Healthcare Staffing AR

Shaun Jex | Thursday, Dec 15th 2022
Stop disputes from impacting cash flow

Disputes can have a major impact on cash flow, particularly during difficult economic times. Hospitals and doctor’s offices are more likely to take every step possible to ensure they don’t pay a cent more than they have to, and that they don’t pay a second sooner than necessary. That means an error as simple as a typo in the name or address on an invoice may lead to a dispute, resetting the clock on when the invoice must be paid.   

Not only do invoice disputes hurt your bottom line; they also frustrate customers. As the healthcare staffing industry continues to grow, with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6% from 2022 to 2030, customers will become more selective when it comes to choosing a partner company.  

 
6% of all US invoices were written off as uncollectable in 2021! 

Atradius, Payment Practices Barometer USMCA 2021 

 

A clear example of the risks associated with invoice disputes can be seen in the ongoing legal battles between Seward Healthcare System LLC and Aya Healthcare. Disagreements in regard to the rates charged led Seward to file suit against the staffing agency, who responded in kind with a suit of their own due to non-payment. While most disputes will not reach this level of acrimony, they can still sour customer relationships, drive up days sales outstanding (DSO), and leave cash flow in limbo. To avoid this, AR departments need a clear, prompt process in place to handle disputes when they arise.  

An Ounce of Prevention

Invoice disputes may be inevitable, but it’s best to prevent as many as possible. Accomplishing that begins with the right tools. Having an AR solution that integrates with your CRM and ERP helps eliminate the errors associated with manual data entry. A keystroke leading to a simple spelling mistake can lead to a customer rejecting an invoice and requesting that it be re-sent, resetting the clock on when the bill is due and increasing days sales outstanding (DSO).  

Another key to decreasing disputes is to prioritize greater internal transparency. Using an AR automation software that integrates with your other back office systems means that everyone is working from a single source of truth, and thus providing the same information to customers.  

 
Did you know?

76% of customers state that inconsistent data is an issue they regularly face when dealing with vendors 

 

This inconsistent information can lead to confusion about what is due and when, resulting in delays and disputes. Not only does Quadient AR provide consistent information for employees; the self-service portal also gives customers full visibility into their account, including invoice details, past due bills, and credits. This means that they have consistent, real-time account visibility. The portal also provides them with an easy way to contact representatives and ask questions. Machine-learning capabilities assess queries and ensure they are directed to the relevant team member. This allows customers to ask questions about line items or charges and get fast answers that can help head off disputes.   

The Right Treatment

Unfortunately, even with optimum transparency and a refined AR process, invoice disputes will occur. How these instances are handled makes the difference between a quick resolution and a lengthy drawn out process that balloons DSO and irritates customers.  

The standard dispute resolution process is prolonged and can lead to significant bottlenecks in your cash flow.  

standard steps in the resolution process

This process becomes even more convoluted if data silos exist. Frequently, different teams rely on different software, such as an ERP or CRM. The solutions do not automatically communicate, which means that finding and sharing relevant information is both time-consuming and vulnerable to human error.  

Adopting an automation solution provides a number of advantages when it comes to investigating and resolving disputes. The software automatically communicates with ERP and CRM solutions, ensuring that data is in alignment. It also provides line item captures of disputes in a centralized dashboard. Unlimited supporting files can be attached to the dispute, and customized escalation flows can be created based on criteria, such as how many days the dispute has been open. Taken together, these features help resolve disputes quickly, to the satisfaction of all parties involved.  

 

“In a cash flow-crucial business, it’s so important to have the ability to quickly organize, follow up and identify the root cause of disputed balances. Increased customization, activity tracking and having all the needed data on one page have been major crowd pleasers for our team.”

- Cory Merrill, Manager of Financial operations at CHG Healthcare and Quadient AR Customer 

 

A Prescription for AR Health

By improving your back office practices, increasing transparency and making it simple for customers to communicate with your team, you not only reduce the likelihood of invoice disputes. You also ensure that they can be handled promptly when they arise. Quadient AR provides the tools necessary to make this goal a reality.  

To learn more about how to elevate AR in the healthcare staffing industry, read our latest eBook, 5 Steps to AR Excellence in Healthcare Staffing.