How hands-on leadership can transform the revenue cycle, patient experience

A positive consumer financial experience is critical to driving volume and creating predictable revenue streams. It's no surprise that many healthcare C-suite executives are prioritizing the consumer experience as part of their strategic agendas.

During a roundtable discussion at the Becker's Hospital Review 12th Annual Meeting sponsored by ClearBalance HealthCare®, participants discussed the value of financial experiences that attract consumers, elevate organizations' reputations and grow market share. 

Four key takeaways: 

  1. Senior healthcare leaders have prioritized the revenue cycle. The system vice president of revenue cycle and payer strategy at a multi-hospital health system in Chicago noted that his position reports directly to the CFO. "Our leadership team is very open to discussing what's going on in rev cycle. I present key metrics and pain points to the senior executive team on a monthly basis. Each week, I have one-on-one meetings with the hospital presidents to update them on collections," he said.

    Another revenue cycle professional at a Midwestern hospital that is part of a 45-hospital health system agreed that the revenue cycle has visibility at the highest levels. "Every day we have a 15-minute rev cycle huddle," she said. "I know every patient and payer source that came in through the emergency department, every admission, every self-pay patient, how much we collected in patient responsibility the previous day and any payer issues we're having. I have to be prepared to defend that with the CEO on quarterly calls."

  2. Patient experience gives context to financial metrics. One attendee observed, "During COVID, we replaced face-to-face meetings with continual dissemination of data. We ended up with 'metric whack-a-mole.' I like emphasizing patient experience [as the key organizational metric]. It gets everyone focused on what we care about and what matters." This mindset shift can help organizations address issues proactively, rather than reactively.

  3. Setting expectations and reducing surprises are key aspects of the patient financial experience. Competition for patients is growing, especially on the primary care side. "If we don't treat patients the right way and in a cost-effective manner, they will go elsewhere for their healthcare," one participant said.

    First impressions are important. Health systems are looking at ways to streamline the patient experience with tools like online check-in. "If we can educate patients about the cost of care," another attendee said, "they won't be surprised. It's the unknown stuff that's scary." 

  4. Health systems are adopting digital tools to improve the financial experience. According to one participant, "The important part is focusing upstream and resolving payment discussions when people call in to register for their appointment. When they show up for their procedure or for care, there are no outstanding concerns."

The future of healthcare requires a balance between focusing on the basics and innovation. "We are dealing with four different generations in our hospitals," one attendee observed. "We have to deliver a positive experience and good care to all of them, while maintaining our margins."

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