Executives from both organizations discuss the revenue cycle joint venture which aims to optimize financial operations and could potentially expand through the Southeast.
The partnership, which builds on an existing relationship between the two organizations, will focus on improving Baptist’s RCM operations before turning to possible expansion.
David Zito, a managing director at Navigant, and Ralph Lawson, chief financial officer of Baptist Health South Florida, spoke to HealthLeaders Media about the short-term and long-term goals for the joint venture.
In the immediate future, the aim is to improve Baptist’s RCM operations, after the system posted an operating loss of $31.3 million last year and saw its provision for doubtful accounts increase to $410 million, up 34% year-over-year. If that proves effective, both organizations would eye offers to implement the service in systems throughout Florida and the Southeast, Zito and Lawson said.
Below are some of the factors both organizations are seeking to address through the burgeoning partnership.
According to Zito, Navigant previously approached Baptist about creating a joint venture but didn’t start negotiations in earnest until the University at Alabama, Birmingham inked a deal in 2016 to hire Navigant Cymetrix to improve its RCM.
“We didn’t walk in with a joint venture idea, we walked in with wanting to come up with something that was different and leverage the strengths of both organizations,” Zito said.
What Navigant is bringing to the table: knowledge, technology, training, and scale. What Baptist is bringing to the table: employees, culture, and name-recognition. Baptist will focus on clinical care for the community, Navigant will focus on revenue cycle, so both can focus on core businesses, according to Zito.
“We’re good at revenue cycle, we’re just trying to take it from being an excellent revenue cycle to a world-class operation,” Lawson said.
As reimbursement rates continue to slide, more and more health system leaders will turn to revenue cycle changes to optimize their financial operations.
Leaders are reevaluating every dollar they spend, focusing on leveraging new technology, outsourcing operations, and investing in solutions to optimize revenue cycle.
Expansion plans depend on how the joint venture works at Baptist. This could be a multi-year process before offers from outside providers are entertained. Lawson said a future expansion plan would primarily focus on systems in the southeast. Zito said there are target systems on the table but there are no plans to begin discussions.
Consumer benefits are likely, too. Baptist needs to make sure it bills more accurately the first time, since Lawson says “no one likes to pay their hospital bills but they like it even less when there are errors.”
Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.