Revenue cycle leaders should work to lighten the load for back-office staff immediately, experts say.
Maintaining the revenue cycle operations of an organization comes with a unique set of challenges. Labor shortages in particular have been plaguing the healthcare industry for years, forcing revenue cycle leaders to reevaluate the way they remedy staff burnout and responsibility.
In fact, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, issued an advisory on building a thriving healthcare workforce that included ways organizations can help revenue cycle staff avoid burnout, including reexamining time spent on prior authorizations, optimizing back-end technology, and more.
Inefficient work processes, burdensome documentation requirements, and limited autonomy can result in negative patient outcomes, a loss of meaning at work, and health worker burnout, the advisory said.
These combined challenges are putting pressure on revenue cycle leaders, and now is the time to act, especially when it comes to back-end revenue cycle operations, says Titus Leo, SVP and head of healthcare provider practice at Sagility.
"The recently issued advisory shows how the healthcare labor crunch has had a serious impact on both frontline workers and back-office provider operations," Leo said.
And, he says, if health systems don't address revenue cycle staffing challenges per the Surgeon General's guidance, cash flow and revenue will suffer, and this at a time when providers struggle to make progress toward financial recovery from the pandemic.
To help alleviate the burden on back-office staff, Leo says health providers should employ the following strategies, supported in part by technology:
Automate back-office functions to create efficiencies. As hospital volumes fluctuate and administrative labor resources may be scarce, automation fills the gaps and takes over repetitive, manual processes, Leo says.
Apply analytics to the revenue cycle workflow to use staff more effectively. For example, Leo says collecting low-balance accounts through manual processes often provides little return. By applying analytics to assess likelihood of payment, providers can allocate staff resources to follow up on accounts most likely to be paid.
Consider staff augmentation to fill labor gaps. With labor shortages plaguing the healthcare industry, revenue cycle talent is increasingly hard to come by, Leo says. External business process management experts can provide scalable staff and expertise to mitigate worker burnout and offset talent gaps as volumes fluctuate.
"Utilizing these strategies in conjunction with the latest technology can enhance revenue cycle staff capabilities, ultimately helping to better serve the needs of workers and reduce burnout," Leo says.
Amanda Norris is the Associate Content Manager of Finance, Payer, Revenue Cycle, and Strategy for HealthLeaders.
Automate back-office functions to create efficiencies
Apply analytics to the revenue cycle workflow to use staff more effectively
Consider staff augmentation to fill labor gaps