Keying Policies Can be the KEY to Reducing Duplicate Payments for your Healthcare System

The devil is in the details. And in this case, the details are all the common errors that can pop up when your team is entering accounts payable (AP) data and supplier information into the system. Even with basic ERP validations, these errors can quickly add up and cost your healthcare system thousands of dollars each year in the form of duplicate payments. While keying mistakes are bound to happen, there are a few things you can do to mitigate data input errors and promote accuracy.

 

Keep an eye on your ERP accounts payable system, especially during a conversion

As you may have seen in our recent duplicate payments case study, system conversions can be a tricky time. At some point, both systems may be running, and payments can be erroneously entered into each system. It’s also important to understand ERP system controls and parameters, especially the number of people across your organization who are entering invoices. And last, if you have more than one ERP system, it’s time to consolidate. If you can’t, it’s important to look at both systems on a regular basis to make sure nothing has been entered or paid twice.

 

Establish standard operating procedures for your team

To help ensure duplicate vendor payments don’t slip through the cracks, set up clear processes, procedures and rules for employees. Create and enforce a standard payment workflow for invoices (from receipt of an “original” document to payment), make sure employees have the proper training and understand the importance of their roles to your hospital system’s bottom line. Oversight and ongoing training are important too, as is encouraging even greater diligence by recognizing staff for finding duplicate payments in the system.

 

Create specific guidelines for entering data

These guidelines should normalize data for consistency, and employees should be trained in proper keying procedures. These guidelines, at a minimum, should include the following:

  • Inclusion or exclusion of leading or trailing zeros
  • Uniform entry of extraneous characters (this includes spaces, dashes and special characters)
  • Procedures for invoice numbers that exceed the character limit
  • Entering invoices that do not contain an invoice number
  • Capitalization

 

Consider using software

Let’s face it. Mistakes do happen, especially due to human error. Data can be input incorrectly in the form of typos, missing or adding numbers or letters or just typing in the wrong number. Intelligent Character Recognition and Optical Character Recognition technology can help spot these types of errors and detect potential duplicate payments.

 

Make sure all vendors are valid

Often, duplicate vendors appear in the master file due to being entered with different abbreviations, acronyms, misspellings and other data entry errors. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to periodically review and purge the vendor master file to ensure that only valid vendors are available for payment.

As mentioned in our previous blog post on purchase orders, over the past ten years, duplicate payments represented the third largest PCR AP recovery by category. Mitigating data input errors and promoting accuracy can be a key to preventing duplicate payments, saving your healthcare system thousands of dollars.

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