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Looking Beyond Technology: How Rev Cycle Leaders Can Address Staffing Shortages

Analysis  |  By Amanda Norris  
   August 31, 2022

Leaders have started turning to technology to alleviate staffing shortages, but what can they do when implementing new technology isn't an immediate option?

Revenue cycle leaders have started turning to technology to fill gaps as staffing shortages seem to have hit a high. In fact, one in four finance leaders need to hire more than 20-plus employees to fully staff their revenue cycle departments.

But what can revenue cycle leaders do when implementing new technology isn't an immediate option?

For a short-staffed department, filling positions is a priority. But that's easier said than done in the current labor market. Attracting job candidates and selecting the right person for the job have always been challenges, but revenue cycle leaders are discovering that the pandemic has fundamentally changed what job seekers are looking for and what they're willing to compromise on.

Specifically, employees are looking for remote work, according to Stacey McCreery, MBA, and Julie Teixeira of ROI Search Group. On an episode of The Revenue Integrity Show: A NAHRI Podcast, McCreery and Teixeira discussed how the expansion of remote work has affected hiring and staff retention.

Although the initial transition to remote work challenged some, most employees quickly found the benefits outweighed the drawbacks, according to McCreery and Teixeira. In addition, some organizations discovered moving nonclinical departments off-site freed up valuable real estate on campus and reduced overhead costs.

Organizations that still expect to bring all staff back on-site on a full-time basis could find themselves at a disadvantage in the job market, McCreery and Teixeira said.

Organizations need to keep remote and flexible work options on the table to remain competitive. However, this can be a tough sell for senior leadership accustomed to traditional work arrangements and reluctant to commit to long-term changes.

"They want to see people in their seats, and they want to be able to walk around and see what they're doing," Geneva Schlabach, co-founder and CEO of VISPA, recently told the National Association of Healthcare Revenue Integrity (NAHRI). "I think it's going to have to be a progressive shift to allowing more of a hybrid workforce. "

A VISPA client initially resisted extending remote and hybrid work options, Schlabach says. However, as open positions went unfilled, they eventually settled on a hybrid work model that allowed them to remain competitive in the job market.

It's not an all-or-nothing scenario. If leaders remain flexible with work-from-home options, it reverberates through the culture and staff become more flexible in return, she says.

Leaders should lean into change when staffers depart, Schlabach says. Take a careful look at everything, from job duties to job titles, and consider what should stay as-is and what needs a refresh.

Perhaps a revenue cycle department had multiple levels of managers and directors and a complex hierarchy of staff involving tiers of team leads. Reevaluate the structure to determine whether this still make sense. If new workflows and priorities are developed, should old titles and job descriptions be grafted onto them without change?

"I believe that we are at a time within healthcare that we do have to relook at those titles," she says. "We may have had this corporate structure that was a lot more stringent at one time that we can maybe ease up on some of that and do things differently."

Amanda Norris is the Director of Content for HealthLeaders.

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