When it comes to improving patient billing and payment processes, there's a bright future for vendor consolidation.
For years now, the revenue cycle has been seeing a boom in automation and technology, giving patients better access to patient portals, digital front doors, and payment options.
In fact, revenue cycle leaders are constantly in search of ways to better secure revenue by bolstering their technology and streamlining processes—especially when it comes to patient billing and payments.
While patients may be getting an information overload through their bills and statements, once this information is paired down and streamlined, the advancement of technology can make the patient financial experience easier and more transparent.
But at a time when technology in the billing and payment space is king and almost all executives that plan to purchase rev cycle technology are willing to consider "bolt-on" vendors, can there be too much of a good thing? Some leaders say yes—especially since every individual tech solution needs to be meticulously monitored and maintained.
The ultimate goal is to give the patient the ability to make payments and to interact with an organization on financial issues in any manner that they see fit, but is throwing new tech in at every step really the right decision?
Better yet, does your revenue cycle staff even have the bandwidth, or cash, to manage multiple vendors in one space?
Tonie Bayman, director of revenue recovery at Memorial Hermann Healthcare System, says that this is why the industry will likely see more vendor consolidation in the next five years as providers invest even more on all-encompassing options for improving patient payment processes.
“[Revenue cycle leaders] have a lot to manage now, and it’s better for them if they can pair down to one or two vendors,” she says. “There’s going to be more consolidation and newer technology that’s going to help manage some of this complexity,” says Bayman.
Joann Ferguson, vice president of revenue cycle at Henry Ford Health, told HealthLeaders that her advice to other health systems considering investing in technology is to do their due diligence and find the right fit for your organization—which for some, might not be yet another bolt-on option.
"Going for the quick fix or using last year’s technology because it's cheaper will only make change more painful in the future," Ferguson said. "That means finding a partner who understands rev cycle operations and AI, and what your team needs to be successful.”
Revenue cycle leaders need to keep up with ever-evolving technology while keeping staff workloads streamlined and budgets tight.
So, while technology is a necessity in the revenue cycle, it’s never been a set it and forget it option. Having a mixed-bag of bolt-on vendors in back end may seem like the right decision, but the complexity of vendor management may not be worth it for some—especially as the industry trends toward larger, all-encompassing options.
Is it possible to make technology management less complex while still improving the patient experience? Leaders are hopeful.
Amanda Norris is the Associate Content Manager of Finance, Payer, Revenue Cycle, and Strategy for HealthLeaders.
At a time when technology in the billing and payment space is king, can there be too much of a good thing?
Every individual tech solution needs to be meticulously monitored and maintained, which can make a revenue cycle leader's job even harder.