An estimated 6,200 accounts at Western Missouri Medical Center in Warrensburg, Mo. were inadvertently sent to a collection agency because of a glitch in changing to a new computer system, according to to hospital officials.
Interim President/CEO Darinda Reberry said the problem occurred when the computer system changeover didn’t link the accounts of patients who had multiple records. Some patients may have made payments that were credited to one account but the computer didn’t transfer any of the payment to other accounts, which then were shown as delinquent.
Officials at the hospital didn’t discover the problem because of delays involved in submitting claims to insurance companies during the changeover. But eventually patients began calling to complain and up to 200 calls per day were received for an unspecified time period.
Hospital Board President Larry Purcell said accounts that reach the 120-day overdue mark are typically automatically sent to collections and notices are sent to the account holders.
Reberry said the hospital hadn’t turned any accounts to collections for 15 months before the computer system changeover.
The hospital decided to regionally advertise that a problem had occurred and asked people to call if their account was wrongly sent to collections.
"People are calling, and we are fixing it," Purcell said. "We made sure as they phoned in that they were pulled back from the collection agency, and we’re making sure no one is turned over to the credit bureau."
Reberry said different processes and additional resources are in place to answer phones and make sure no new problems arise.