Unclaimed Property and The 49.5 Billion Reasons Why Dark Data is A Bigger Problem Than You Think

By Teri Harkins

At SpendMend, we focus a lot on dark data in healthcare.  In 2019, Splunk.com published an influential article on the topic which identified dark data as “all of the unused, unknown and untapped data across an organization, generated as a result of users’ daily interactions online with countless devices and systems.” The article went on to further claim that “dark data may be one of an organization’s biggest untapped resources. Data is increasingly a major organizational asset, and competitive organizations will need to tap into its full value.”

One of the biggest lessons that we’ve learned in our pursuit to illuminate dark data for our health system clients is that it is not easy to find and re-instate dark data. Once data goes dark… where are you supposed to look for it? How are you ever going to find it? If this data were easy to find… would it be considered “dark” in the first place?

One of the strategies we’ve developed to identify dark data is to look outside the organization’s “walls” (read: systems and databases.) We have developed several strategies to triangulate with third parties, partners, suppliers, and more in our tireless effort to illuminate data that would otherwise remain unseen.

This tactic – to look beyond the health system – is never more relevant than when performing an Asset Recovery audit. An Asset Recovery audit is an orchestrated effort to help hospitals identify, validate and recover unclaimed property that is owed to the hospital but has been escheated to the government.

To clarify, if a business, government office, or other entity owes a hospital money that the hospital does not collect, it’s considered unclaimed. Unclaimed property can include many things, including cash, checks, money orders, security deposits, the contents of safe deposit boxes, etc. When businesses cannot locate the owner of this property, they are then forced to send money to state-run unclaimed property offices. The federal government doesn’t have a central website for finding unclaimed money and to recover this money, a claimant must mine the data and records of every state and well beyond.

In a 2020 report on unclaimed property, financial advisor, SmartAsset determined that there was a total of $49.5 billion in unclaimed property available to U.S. individuals, businesses, hospitals, etc. For context, the report asserted that the massive cache was “equal to the market value of FedEx, 250 times the net worth of Justin Bieber and enough to buy about 286,000 houses in the U.S. at the average home value.”

Knowing all of this, are you now wondering if any of this money is owed to your hospital? Well, if you’re not, you should be. Remember this is your property. This is data that you should be well aware of but at some point, it went “dark.”  

SpendMend helps hospitals to recapture unclaimed property through our Asset Recovery audit. Our approach is advanced and exhaustive. 

Our team mines and reviews elusive data from over 50 disparate databases. The structures, naming conventions, and communication styles used in these data sets are always varied and nearly impossible to anticipate. 

But, deep within these databases, we are able to unearth large amounts of rich information. The data we find frequently translates into bottom-line monetary value for the hospital while always providing new visibility and insight for the hospital. Our clients consistently leverage this newly illuminated data to make better decisions.

If you are curious about how dark data is impacting your hospital or if you are interested in performing an in-depth Asset Recovery audit, we encourage you to reach out to a SpendMend rep and simply start a conversation

We should know within about 15 minutes if we can help you with your business needs. If we determine there is nothing we can do, then our in-house experts can connect you with the right industry resource to answer your questions.