Dayton Fire and EMS respond to an accident with injuries at the intersection of Main St. and Siebenthaler Ave. in Dayton.
Photo: Teesha McClam
Photo: Teesha McClam

Dayton collects just a fraction of what it bills for emergency runs. Here’s how it’s trying to change that.

Dayton has hired a billing and collections company that officials estimate will increase EMS fee revenue by $500,000 in the first year of service.

The city has agreed to pay a company called Digitech about $1.02 million over three years to help increase emergency medical services collections and to improve customer service, city officials said.

Last year, the city billed about $18 million in EMS transportation charges but collected less than $4.7 million, according to city documents obtained by the Dayton Daily News. Most of the revenue to the city came from Medicaid and Medicare payments.

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“The system that Digitech is proposing will just give us the ability to collect better and quicker,” C. LaShea Lofton, Dayton’s finance director, said.

The city projects higher revenue because of more efficient billing practices largely related to better software, said Lofton.

Collectively, the new system will allow the fire department to enhance patient documentation, billing practices, quality assurance and efficiency while moving to a paperless system that improves revenues and internal processes, city officials said.

Digitech estimates it can increase the city’s EMS revenue to about $260 per transport from the current level of $207, city documents state.

The city is not proposing to increase the rates for EMS treatment and transport, officials said. The city’s last rate increase occurred in early 2012.

“There’s no change in the care people are receiving or the amounts we are billing them,” said Nicholas Hosford, Dayton assistant fire chief.

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The new billing system will allow patients to view their accounts online, offer online payments and help improve the exchanging of insurance information, Hosford said.

The new patient care reporting system will reduce documentation time at the hospital. The system replaces one that dates back to the 1990s that requires crews that have gathered information in the field manually to wait until arriving at the hospital to create a report, officials said.

“Our process right now takes way too many steps to get a bill originated and sent,” said Lofton, the finance director.

Digitech’s system should reduce the amount of time it takes to get a bill to medical providers and other responsible parties as well as reduce the error rate, Lofton said.

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New devices will allow paramedics in the field to access patient information, scan driver’s licenses, capture electronic signatures and upload patients’ vitals, officials said.

Digitech offers more payment options for bills, including by credit card, over-the-phone and mail. The city’s current vendor only accepts payment by mail.

Digitech was one of 11 third-party billing companies to submit a proposal to handle Dayton’s EMS billing and collection services.

The firm had the second lowest cost of the top five highest ranked proposals, and the 34-year-old company emphasized that it would limit the risk of billing errors and non-compliant billing practices that can lead to potential penalties to the city, city documents show.

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