In this new decade, revenue cycle leaders are resolving to take a different approach to achieve success, one that involves a spirit of optimism, reinvention, and new ways of thinking rather than focusing on the barriers.
For many years, discussions about how to achieve revenue cycle success have revolved around the obstacles of what's holding it back. For example, there are patients who don't understand their benefits or pay their bills; payers that fight charges; providers who can't or won't participate in revenue cycle initiatives; and regulations that are confusing, contradictory, and sometimes counterproductive.
But in this new decade, revenue cycle leaders are resolving to take a different approach to achieve success, one that involves a spirit of optimism, reinvention, and new ways of thinking rather than focusing on the barriers.
At the recent HealthLeaders Revenue Cycle Exchange in West Palm Beach, Florida, executives shared their proven approaches for success, as well as initiatives they'd like to implement.
"I see my job as being a navigator and an advocate for patients to guide them through an incredibly complex, difficult system that they don't understand and get them to the other side financially whole," said Laurie Hurwitz, MBA, FHFMA, CRCR, senior vice president of revenue cycle at Illinois-based OSF HealthCare. "That is my goal for every single patient that we treat."
With a fresh perspective, revenue cycle leaders can ask—and answer—key questions as they look ahead: What do patients want and need from their financial experience? How can leaders empower their staff to be what Terri Meier, system director for patient revenue cycle at UC San Diego Health, calls "knowledge workers," who help patients navigate through the financial experience during a vulnerable time? And in what ways can technology assist in all of this?
A new HealthLeaders report synthesizes some of these ideas into action items for leaders. Here are five things revenue cycle leaders resolve to do in the new decade.
1. Give patients more control.
Whether it's enabling self-registration, setting up payment plans, or even postponing elective care for cost reasons, revenue cycle leaders are increasingly putting control into patients' hands for financial responsibilities.
2: Straighten up the front end.
If "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," then taking the time to get things right on the front end might prevent denials and other back-end headaches. Options to make that a reality include combining scheduling and pre-registration into a single function and talking about payment plan options with patients ahead of their service.
3: Customize patient encounters.
Maybe it's customizing billing preferences by letting patients get statements and pay by paper, online portal, or mobile app. Maybe it's recognizing when patients need a more education about their insurance coverage. Whatever it looks like, customization is the name of the game.
"That's where we're headed," says Karen Shaffer-Platt, UPMC’s vice president of corporate revenue cycle: "a customized patient experience versus one size fits all."
4: Prioritize an expert team of staff.
As more of the revenue cycle becomes automated, many leaders aren't laying off staff; they're redeploying staff to work on more complicated tasks.
That means leaders are offering employee career ladders and providing employee training to develop their skills, paying them more, and treating the job with high value. Giving staff members the option of working at home is also an incentive for retaining and rewarding current team members, as well as recruiting new ones. Karen Kennedy, director of revenue cycle for Cleveland Clinic Martin Health in Stuart, Florida, calls remote work "a huge satisfier."
5: Be the patient.
What do patients want and need? There's only one way to figure that out: Leaders must put themselves in their patients' shoes.
"We're spending time trying to be the patient," says JoAnn Yohn, executive director of revenue cycle at the University of Florida Health. "Those are actually the words we're using: 'Be the patient.' What do you see? What do you feel?"
This exercise can result in a better understanding of how patients want to interact with their financial experience, allowing providers to tailor tools and services directly to those desired interactions.
Share your insights and ideas with other revenue cycle VPs and leadership facing the same challenges by attending the Revenue Cycle Exchange April 20–22, 2020, in Carlsbad, California.
The Revenue Cycle Exchange is one of six healthcare thought leadership and networking events that HealthLeaders holds annually. To inquire about attending a HealthLeaders exchange, email us at email@example.com.
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.
Photo credit: Christine Migliaro, VP revenue cycle operations, Northwell Health and Mary Wickersham, VP, central business office services, Avera Health at the December 2019 HealthLeaders Revenue Cycle Exchange. (Spencer Selvidge)
Give patients more control.
Straighten up the front end.
Customize patient encounters.