Cerner adds new revenue cycle leadership: 5 questions with Cerner president, new SVP of RCM

To help navigate the changing waters of revenue cycle management in healthcare, including value-based reimbursement, patients shouldering more financial responsibilities and alternate payment models, Cerner has created a new position — senior vice president of revenue cycle management and president of RevWorks, Cerner's revenue management services unit. The Kansas City, Mo.-based company selected Jeff Hurst to fill that role.

Mr. Hurst's appointment is effective Sept. 1. He joins Cerner after spending 19 years with Florida Hospital, part of Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based Adventist Health System, where he most recently was senior vice president of finance, directing all financial and clinical revenue cycle functions. Prior, Mr. Hurst spent 10 years serving in the United States Air Force.

Mr. Hurst and Cerner president Zane Burke spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about the new position, Mr. Hurst's transition from the provider and client side to the vendor side, and the most pressing revenue cycle needs today.

Note: Interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: This is a new position at Cerner, correct?

Zane Burke: It is an additive position at Cerner. We're creating a new role as part of our continued commitment around revenue cycle to bring our clients the best success. We've made a lot of progress in revenue cycle, and the trajectory is very positive. There is still so much to do with clients, whether it's regarding bundled payments, changes in reform from a payer perspective, the business model evolution, and even population health. We continue to grow our talent internally as well as look for strong people externally, and we have the opportunity with Jeff, which is really unique to have someone that has been a partner client of ours. We have a lot of respect for the Adventist Health System as well as the work of FloridaHospital, and the work they've done with us from a development perspective has been very strong and has really benefited all of our clients.

Q: Jeff, how do you plan to use your experience in the provider industry as you move to the vendor side of revenue cycle management?

Jeff Hurst: Over the last several years, or really over the last several decades, the healthcare industry in its entirety has been very fragmented and siloed, whether you're talking physicians and hospitals, ambulatory versus acute, IT versus operational or clinical versus financial. We're really operating in an environment now where connectivity, integration, alignment and partnerships are becoming increasingly important. We've had a fantastic relationship between Cerner and Adventist Health System over the last decade. As Cerner continues to bring value-add solutions to the market, having that end user experience, someone who's really lived revenue cycle on a daily basis, understands the intricacies and details of revenue cycle and really has a vision for the future in mind, it's a perfect partnership between the operational side of the industry and the technology side of the industry in terms of how we bring opportunities and improvements…to market and deliver to the end consumer.

Q: Can you talk more about this partnership between Cerner and Adventist? What were some of the key parts coming out of it?

ZB: Adventist was really one of the pioneers with us around our acute revenue cycle solution at a big scale. An organization like Adventist with over 40 hospitals and with the largest hospital in the country, they were working with us to really fully develop some of the capabilities we scale to larger organizations. Adventist has also been one of the highest performing financial organizations in the country. We've been able to take some of the work they've done to optimize the business operations and make that part of the core solution set. It's a living lab, if you will.

JH: The other thing I would add to that is Cerner is a leader in the healthcare IT space. From an end user client perspective like Adventist, the other advantage beyond just our individual partnership is the fact that Cerner provides value solutions to large, sophisticated health systems across the United States: Advocate, Banner, Memorial Hermann, Intermountain. As the industry is becoming more complex and as change in the industry is moving at a pace and magnitude really at unprecedented levels, our ability on the provider side to leverage a partnership with someone like Cerner and to learn what Cerner is doing with other clients in the space really creates a multiplier effect, in terms of our ability to take not just our internal learnings but learnings they've had from their other leading clients and leverage that.

Q: What are you seeing from clients as their most pressing RCM needs?

JH: It really comes down to two things: transparency from both a consumer and a purchaser standpoint, and simplification. From a transparency standpoint, obviously there are lots of conversations and discussions around transparency — how providers are paid for services they provide, whether the value proposition exists with respect to the payment stream in the clinical and experience outcomes, why hospitals charge the prices they charge and whether those make sense from a rational pricing standpoint. As we move into this next evolution and iteration from a consumerism standpoint, I think there's going to be more and more pressure on the provider side which puts more and more pressure and creates more opportunities for Cerner to deliver solutions that allow us to create that transparency that the end customers are seeking from a provider side.

The second piece of that from the simplification standpoint — the reality is Florida Hospital today…has multiple business units, all of which in many cases bill separately and have different C schedules and different contracts in place. From an end user perspective, it becomes very, very complicated and very, very difficult for the patient to ultimately figure out not just how to navigate the clinical side of the industry, but how to navigate the financial side of the industry. This partnership with Cerner has created opportunities for us to try to streamline, simplify and create transparency in the revenue cycle.

ZB: The simple side of me just says the vision of the single bill for the patient at the end of the day, and the ability of our clients to be able to financially track the patient no matter where they are in the system. It's either transparency through a single bill or transparency through being able to track the person through the healthcare system, no matter where they are.

Q: Jeff, what are you most looking forward to about heading to Missouri?

JH: The opportunity with Cerner really for me is the next evolution, next step on my journey. It will give me the opportunity to take everything that I've learned from a provider side, from a client side, and really build upon the success that Cerner already has in the healthcare space. It's a great time to be in healthcare, and Cerner is a great company to be with. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity.

More articles on revenue cycle management:

Revenue cycle management — a four-step approach to developing an effective compensation plan for hospitals and health systems 
15 RCM leaders to know 
7 healthcare leaders share advice for improving revenue cycle performance 

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