Dr. Gerard Brogan on Northwell Health's top bill collection strategies

Hospital revenue cycle leaders face an array of challenges, including ensuring payment for services and meeting patient demands related to billing and collections.

Gerard Brogan Jr., MD, senior vice president and chief revenue officer of New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health, takes on these challenges daily.

He is responsible for the front, middle and back inpatient and outpatient revenue cycle management, reporting and coding of illnesses and mortality risks and patient access capabilities.

He is the former executive director of Northwell's Huntington (N.Y.) Hospital and before that was medical director of the system's Long Island Jewish Medical Center at Forest Hills (N.Y.).

Becker's interviewed Dr. Brogan to discuss his favorite part of his job, the system's bill collection strategy and his advice for other hospital revenue cycle leaders.

Note: The following responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What is your favorite part about being a revenue cycle leader?

Gerard Brogan: Connecting the revenue cycle team and their efforts to the drive of improving clinical quality and the quality of the patient’s experience.

Q: What are your top bill collection strategies?

GB: There are a several major strategies, and we generally break them down into the front, middle and back part of the revenue cycle. On the front part, it's about capturing accurate demographics on the patient, particularly in the emergency setting, where most of the inpatient admissions come through. There's also a big emphasis on clinical documentation and accurate coding. And then the third big area is on payer relationships to attempt to streamline the payment process so there are less steps involved and less cost from both parties' perspectives. We, like many places across the country, are seeing an increase in denial activity, and we're also continually enhancing our appeal process to respond to the influx of clinical denials we've all seen increasing over the years.

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

One thing we are focusing on is utilizing rapid process automation or what some people refer to as bots, or other types of technology solutions to automate areas that lend themselves to that type of strategy and to redeploy folks to those parts of the revenue cycle that still require human touches, conversations with insurers, conversations with patients.

Q: If you could pass along a piece of advice to other hospital revenue cycle leaders, what would it be?

GB: I think we have had some success the last few years by engaging with the clinical leadership and the medical staff and enhancing their appreciation of the value of an effective revenue cycle to their jobs, and getting the cooperation necessary from the physician side or the advanced care providers to complement the effort of the revenue cycle staff.

Q: Any other topic you'd mention regarding the revenue cycle process?

GB: We're seeing with the high-deductible plans and increasing patient financial responsibility  the need to both educate patients throughout the process and have responsive financial counseling resources for the patients when they have questions about bills or are trying to understand what's currently covered by their insurance and what's not. This whole area of engaging your patients and providing support in this area is more important than ever and something that we've been putting some extra resources toward with respect to call centers, financial counselors at each of the hospitals and general education material on our website.


More articles on healthcare finance: 

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For-profit hospital stock report: Week of June 24-28

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