The recent UAW strike draws on similar workforce concerns revenue cycle leaders have been facing with their staff for years: technology advancement.
While the recent United Auto Workers’ (UAW) strike is historic for many reasons, the union’s asks aren’t a far cry from the demands of the healthcare workforce.
One demand by the UAW, though, parallels an issue revenue cycle leaders have been facing with their workforce for years: wanting to know where they stand in the wake of technology advancement.
For context, the UAW is voicing its concern—along with better employment benefits and wage increases—over job security related to an increase in electric-powered vehicles that require fewer parts and fewer laborers. They want to make sure their jobs remain secure as technology advances. Who else is thinking the same? Your revenue cycle staff.
We know that healthcare organizations are embracing revenue cycle automation and AI at a fast pace, with executives seeing technology as a means of improving the quality and accuracy of tasks, reducing manual labor, and improving clinical and staff workflows.
In fact, automation in the revenue cycle isn’t an if, it’s a when, and each time you implement new technology in the department, it’s not improbable that your revenue cycle staff is questioning their viability.
While the concerns of your revenue cycle staff might differ slightly from the situation faced by the UAW, at a time when workforce retention is top of mind and nearly half of healthcare workers fear that AI could take their jobs, hospital leaders need to pay attention to these massive industry strikes.
Luckily, there are a few valuable lessons that hospital leaders can draw from in this labor dispute to protect their teams from the fears of job insecurity as automation and AI continues to take hold of the revenue cycle.
Create open and transparent communication
Leaders need to maintain open lines of communication with revenue cycle staff and address concerns about technology and AI encroaching in on their department. Be transparent about the organization's plans and reassure staff that technology is meant to complement their work, not replace it.
Invest in staff training
Demonstrate your commitment to employee growth by investing in continuous training and upskilling. Show that the organization values its employees' development and is willing to adapt to changing technology together.
In fact, advancing employees’ skills should be viewed through the lens of your business objectives. As upskilling and reskilling are increasingly part of the workplace conversation, business leaders need to approach these programs as far more than short-term soultions for staff.
Emphasize job security
Make it clear that while technology may change job roles, it doesn't necessarily mean a loss of jobs. Emphasize the importance of human judgment, empathy, and critical thinking the revenue cycle—skills that are not easily replaceable by AI.
On the front and back end, patients value the human touch in these interactions, and this will continue to be a critical aspect of the revenue cycle.
And as for critical thinking, coders or clinical documentation improvement staff often use these skills to query providers and report more accurately—something AI can’t do.
Make it known AI is a tool, not a replacement
Revenue cycle leaders implement AI and technology to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of revenue cycle processes, not to necessarily replace FTEs—so make sure your staff knows that is the intention. Showcase how these technologies can reduce administrative burdens, allowing them to focus on more strategic and patient-centered tasks.
Employ collective problem-solving
Engage staff in discussions about how technology can improve their workflow and address pain points. Encourage them to provide input and be part of the decision-making process when adopting new technologies.
Provide fair compensation and benefits
While there’s a fine line between competitive salaries and financial stability, leaders should ensure that revenue cycle staff receive competitive compensation and benefits. Address any disparities or concerns related to wages and benefits promptly.
Share the long-term vision
Share the organization's long-term vision for revenue cycle technology and how staff will be integral to achieving it. Make it clear that their roles will evolve and adapt alongside technology. Leaders also need to remember that revenue cycle technology is only as good as the human staff that runs it behind the scenes.
That all being said, incorporating these strategies can help revenue cycle leaders proactively address concerns among their staff. Leaders need to ensure a more stable and collaborative work environment, which will reduce the likelihood of future workforce issues due to automation and AI advancements.
Amanda Norris is the Associate Content Manager of Finance, Payer, Revenue Cycle, and Strategy for HealthLeaders.
Photo credit: DETROIT, MICHIGAN/USA September 18, 2019: UAW Strikers with signs in front of General Motors Headquarters, Downtown Detroit, September 18, 2019. Shutterstock.com
The UAW wants to make sure their jobs remain secure as technology advances. Who else is thinking the same? Your revenue cycle staff.
Automation in the revenue cycle isn’t an if, it’s a when, and each time you implement new technology in the department, it’s not improbable that your revenue cycle staff is wondering where they stand.
There are a few lessons that leaders can draw from the UAW strike to protect their teams from the fears of job insecurity as automation and AI continues to take hold in healthcare.