Lack of ‘toggle switch’ created billing mess at Yokota’s hospital
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The problems with some medical bills not being sent out to civilian pay patients who used Yokota’s hospital can be attributed to both technical and human error, base officials said this week.
In the steps between getting treatment and receiving a medical bill at Yokota, patient visits are recorded in the Coding Compliance Editor, a computer program designed to improve the accuracy of patient and billing information. But before a bill is released, a person must review it in the system to ensure accuracy.
As a sort of fail-safe, all Air Force medical treatment facilities are required to have a "toggle switch" within the CCE system set at 90 days to automatically process patient visits even if they have not been validated by a person, said Lt. Col. Kelly Klein, 374th Medical Support Squadron commander.
"Our toggle switch was never set during CCE implementation," he said.
That meant that any bills that were not reviewed and released simply sat in the system.
While the magnitude of the situation is being determined, hospital personnel continue to sift through data and send out bills to patients, Klein said.
Last month, Klein estimated the error affects about 1,000 people with unpaid medical bills valued at more than $900,000.
Patients who have left Yokota are being tracked down through various methods, including obtaining forwarding addresses from the post office.
"The problem was technical and human error," Klein said. "And now that those errors have been identified, Yokota is taking steps to ensure no further errors ensue."
Customers with concerns should call 225-6204 or visit the hospital’s cashier cage.