Rural/Metro patches profits leak - East Valley Tribune: Business

Rural/Metro patches profits leak

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Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2007 11:25 pm | Updated: 6:13 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Rural/Metro Corp.’s efforts to curb uncompensated care have started to pay off. Not getting paid for emergency and nonemergency medical service caused the Scottsdale-based company to report a $2.8 million loss for the third quarter of its current fiscal year.

On Tuesday, Rural/Metro reported uncompensated care as a percentage of gross revenue improved during its fourth quarter to 15.1 percent, compared to 15.2 percent for the third quarter. Final fourth-quarter and fiscal year results will be released this fall.

Rural/Metroalso announced that the former president of Southwest Ambulance, Barry Landon, is no longer with the company.

“We have begun to see results related directly to the internal initiatives we implemented to reduce uncompensated care and improve collection results,” said Jack Brucker, president and CEO. “We are encouraged by our ability to stabilize the negative trend and look forward to reporting additional progress in September.”

Based on preliminary fourth-quarter results, the net emergency medical service average patient charge improved to $336 per transport, from $326 in the third quarter.

Short-term initiatives to cut uncompensated care involved improving billing services and case management.

“We have introduced customer care advocate positions within our regional billing centers, and these employees are specialists in tracking uninsured claims,” said corporate spokeswoman Liz Merritt. “They review the claim for all potential sources of insurance in the event we may have misidentified or missed outright potential sources for payment.”

Longer-term initiatives involve improvements in technology, such as an electronic patient care record system.

“There is definitely improvement in the fourth quarter, and we believe we’ll continue to see improvement in the first quarter,” Merritt said.

Landon’s departure is directly related to the company completing its short-term initiatives to curb uncompensated care, she said. She added that Landon played a key role in furthering or completing those initiatives.

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