One in four finance leaders needs to hire 20-plus employees to fully staff their revenue cycle departments, an AKASA survey finds.
Workforce shortages have been a major challenge for healthcare leaders of late and revenue cycle in particular is in serious need of staffing.
More than 57% of health systems and hospitals have more than 100 open roles to fill, with one in four finance leaders needing to hire more than 20-plus employees to fully staff their revenue cycle departments, according to a recent survey by AKASA.
The developer of AI for healthcare operations surveyed 411 chief financial officers and revenue cycle leaders at hospitals and health systems across the country.
"For hospitals, lack of staff within the revenue cycle means you aren’t getting paid," said Amy Raymond, VP of revenue cycle operations at AKASA. "To attract talent, healthcare financial leaders should shift their mindsets: this means relaxing job requirements like years of experience or offer intensive training to new hires with limited background in healthcare finance.
"The second piece is retention: leaders should be investing and upskilling their staff to provide more rewarding work and ensure compensation levels are competitive."
Respondents to the survey quantified the current size of their revenue cycle team, with 64.1% answering 30-plus employees, 8.3% saying 21-30, 12.7% saying 11-20, and 14.9% saying 1-10.
In terms of vacancies within the team, 60% responding 1-10, 19% saying 30-plus, 14% saying 11-20, and 7% saying 21-30.
Automation has been a clear solution to not only alleviating staffing issues in revenue cycle, but making the administrative process more efficient overall.
While, according to AKASA, the use of automation in revenue cycle operations increased 12% in 2021 from 66% to 78%, there remains a demand for further implementation to relieve the burden on staff.
"We've had the same discussion in the revenue cycle for the past 25 years: how do we reduce churn, increase productivity, or drive down denials?" asked Raymond. "Now, the discussion is and will continue to be around automation and being more process-oriented. How do we incorporate automation? What should change management around that look like? Where do we put our people and how do we manage them around automation?"
"We should be watching automation do everything we need it to do, embracing the fact that we can't meet modern demands with humans alone. We haven’t significantly decreased cost-to-collect in 10 years, so something has to change. We need to think about all those same 25-year-old conversations and how automation fits into them."
Jay Asser is an associate editor for HealthLeaders.