How hospitals can improve revenue cycle performance: 4 key thoughts

Revenue cycle management has become increasingly difficult for hospitals as traditional payment models shift to alternative arrangements and patients shoulder more financial responsibility for the care they receive.

To identify some of the steps healthcare organizations can take to enhance revenue cycle processes, we asked several attendees and vendors at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's Annual National Institute conference in Orlando, Fla., this question: What is one thing hospitals can do today to improve revenue cycle performance?

Note: Responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.

Sue Martin, Senior Vice President, B.E. Smith Interim Leadership, ‎B.E. Smith: "One thing hospitals can do today to improve revenue cycle performance is having strong leadership in place to drive performance and utilize technology to its fullest. Position the leaders for success. The B.E. Smith 2017 Healthcare Trends survey identified the top three leadership attributes as vision, integrity and adaptability. These traits are critical for revenue cycle leaders who need to innovate to improve process flows and meet new challenges, such as quality versus fee-for-service models. Health systems can make strides in this area by providing experienced mentors and coaches in leading key initiatives."

Jim Lazarus, Managing Director of Strategy and Innovation, Revenue Cycle Solutions, The Advisory Board: "Hospitals have to be thoughtful about the patient experience. Patient out-of-pocket obligations are typically one of the three biggest buckets of revenue for organizations. If you're not connecting with or getting your payers to pay you, that is a failure."

Mary Beth Briscoe, CFO, University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital and UAB Medicine Clinical Operations: "Financial leaders should review and refine business processes to assure they are patient-centered and focused on engaging patients in a meaningful manner. Shifting attention from back end revenue cycle activities toward a dynamic upfront patient experience can positively impact patient satisfaction. Equally, billing statements that present patient financial liability in a clear and concise manner can enhance a patient’s understanding of a complex healthcare billing process. Health systems should provide a positive clinical experience; however, if not supported by a similarly positive financial experience, patient satisfaction and organizational reputation could be negatively impacted. We should strive to provide our patients with a positive holistic encounter."

John Hansel, Vice President, Provider Healthcare Solutions, MedeAnalytics: "Focus on improving the front end of the revenue cycle. Most of all of the dollars that slip through the cracks do so on the front end. Almost all of the denials and bad debt starts on the front end."

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