4 RCM questions with Phoebe Putney CFO Brian Church

Brian Church is the senior vice president and CFO of Albany, Ga.-based Phoebe Putney Health System.

Mr. Church has spent three years at Phoebe and has held his current position for two years. Prior to that, he was the vice president and controller of the health system.

Mr. Church recently answered questions from Becker's Hospital Review about his greatest challenges as a revenue cycle leader and how he would improve the revenue cycle process.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Question: What's your favorite part about being a revenue cycle leader for a healthcare system? 

Brian Church: The best part is the people I get to work with. They're quality people that come from different backgrounds. I work with health management and informatics folks, patient accounting folks and registration folks, all different groups of people that are good at what they do. My favorite part is getting the chance to work with them daily.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you're facing as a revenue cycle leader?

BC: Continued pressure from payers to reduce payments and find ways not to pay you. Whether it be through precertification or back-end denials. We're seeing a substantial uptick in payers trying to leverage ways not to pay us as providers.

Q: What is one of your goals this year? 

BC: We have two big goals this year. One is on the back-end denial side. We want to implement a more sophisticated tool and process around monitoring payer denials to make sure we're being paid at contract rates.

The second one is because of the ICD-10 conversation that happened in October 2015. We're implementing a computer-assisted coding program and process in our health management and informatics department to help us try to get some of that productivity back that we lost going from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

Q: What is one thing you'd do to improve the revenue cycle process? 

BC: I would make it easier for patients with paying bills. It's so complex when you have a hospital and individual physicians billing a patient. If I could figure out a way to streamline the patient billing process so it is easily understandable for the patient versus making a bunch of different phone calls to different people, I'd like to move toward that. We're in the early discussions of finding a way to merge our call centers between our large physician group and hospital so a patient doesn't call and say, "I want to pay my doctor's bill but I also want to pay my hospital bill." That person can't do both at the same time. We're in the very early stages of trying to figure out how to do that. 

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