A/R for the ER

March 1, 2004

What are some good benchmarks for accounts receivable in emergency medicine?

Question: What are some good benchmarks for accounts receivable in emergency medicine?

Answer: Unfortunately, there are no publicly available accounts receivable benchmarks for emergency medicine practices.

Emergency medicine is the most difficult specialty for which to bill. Why? You have no control over the front-end processes, and no control over your payer mix. You take everyone who walks through your door. Pre-registration, consistent collection of copayments, a fastidious onsite registration process - these things just don't happen in emergency medicine.

That said, there are some rough guides to follow. If you are a typical emergency practice, shoot for these benchmarks:

  • Days in A/R: no more than 75.
  • A/R over 120 days: no more than 25 percent.
  • Adjusted collection rate (net charges minus non-contractual allowances): no less than 90 percent.

The first two statistics depend on effective collections - as well as your ability to identify and write off or outsource money you can't collect. That is, if you sit on accounts that are two years old, your A/R over 120 days will be falsely inflated, as the value of an outstanding dollar drops to mere pennies after a year. In other words, these benchmarks - and others - depend on your performance, as well as your ability to manage.