Duplicate payments are a large issue in most hospital and healthcare systems. As a category duplicate payments make up the third-largest area in TAG’s hospital AP recovery audits.
Often “dupe” payments occur through data entry mistakes, or human error. In one example, an invoice number was entered incorrectly, causing a $187,607 duplicate payment when a hospital later re-entered the invoice data correctly and made a second payment.
It’s inevitable in manual processes: keying errors will occur. However, these types of errors can be reduced or mitigated by establishing and following standard practices.
Six Tips for Hospitals to Reduce Duplicate Payments
- Create data entry policies for non-alphanumeric characters. ERP systems won’t detect duplicate payments when invoice numbers are inconsistently entered, so establish a policy that specifically outlines how data should be keyed. For example, should data entry clerks include or exclude a dash in an invoice number?
- Process invoices from original documents. “Fuzzy” faxes or photocopies cause duplicate payments when similar characters, such as 5 and S, or 8 and B, are confused during data keying.
- Train and retrain data entry personnel in proper keying procedures. Ongoing training can seem tedious but it ensures staff is properly trained. Another benefit from regular discussions about keying procedures— better practices may be uncovered that lead to improved efficiency or accuracy.
- Establish an end-of-day invoice review of the day’s check run. This can expose duplicate payments so they can be prevented before issuance.
- Periodically review and update the Vendor Master File. Vendor (and hospital) changes, consolidations, mergers, and acquisitions allow duplication of vendor data (names or remit-to addresses). Regular review and updating of the Vendor Master File eliminates duplicate information that can lead to multiple payments for the same invoices.
- Process invoices against detailed purchase orders. POs offer a check and balance to the payment process, provide terms of transactions, and prevent duplicate and other payment errors.
Implementing and following these steps will help your organization prevent duplicate payments in the future—saving costs and time. The Audit Group is a healthcare consulting firm that can help you establish efficient process for Accounts Payable, while recovering lost funds. Get in touch to learn more.