Capturing all contracts and assessing impact. As required by the five-step standard, you must consider all revenue streams and how the steps apply to each one. As a refresher, the five steps are below:
- Identify the contract
- Identify performance obligations
- Determine the transaction price
- Allocate the transaction price
- Recognize revenue
Of these steps, identifying the performance obligations and allocating the transaction price have been where most public companies have spent their time.
For instance, performance obligations must be determined, and depending on those determinations, the new standard could impact timing of when revenue is recognized, especially if those performance obligations have no standalone selling price. Identifying performance obligations could vary from company to company. For example, for many healthcare contracts, there is a single performance obligation—i.e. a bundle of healthcare services to treat a patient’s diagnosis. While the patient may receive benefit from individual services provided during the continuum of care, those services generally are integrated and are part of a bundle of services that represents the combined output for which the patient has contracted. Each service is highly dependent/highly interrelated.
Companies must assess if changes to a contract represent a new contract or a modification of an existing contract. The difference could affect how revenue is recognized over the term of that contract. For example, if an additional service is provided to a patient, is that additional obligation distinct and does it reflect a standalone selling price? If so, that additional service may be considered a separate contract. If it is not distinct or does not reflect a standalone selling price, this may be a contract modification that either modifies the original contract or may result in termination of the original contract and the formation of a new contract.
When assessing the transaction price of a contract, you must consider credit risk on the front end. Many companies would record revenue at the gross amount and consider writing off any uncollectible balances after the contract is complete and final billings have been done or after the balance has aged out a certain number of days. Under the new standard, however, these credit risk considerations must be done at the time revenue is recorded based on historical collections analysis and then incorporated into the transaction cost. For healthcare companies, there is a practical expedient that allows a portfolio approach to be used to account for patient contracts as a collective group rather than individually. Examples of the groupings within the portfolio can be based on 1) type of service (inpatient, outpatient, skilled nursing, etc.), or 2) type of payors (commercial, governmental, self- pay, etc.).
Before a company can begin implementing changes due to ASC 606, consideration of each revenue stream and how the new standard may impact the recognition of those revenue streams must be assessed. Each of the five steps must be reviewed during implementation, and documentation should be created to walk through each step.