Partners HealthCare VP on addressing regulation challenges in the revenue cycle

Mary Beth Remorenko, vice president of revenue cycle operations at Boston-based Partners HealthCare, knows the challenges hospitals face in navigating state and federal or payer regulations.  

She said new legislation and CMS requirements are coming out routinely, and it can be difficult to keep up with it all, especially in the revenue cycle.

"Balancing that with my own institution's priorities and what we're working on for our patients is [also] challenging," added Ms. Remorenko.

Ms. Remorenko has served in her current role since December 2017 and previously was director of revenue at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Here, she shares how Partners HealthCare addresses challenges regarding regulations as well as her thoughts on price transparency and her advice for other hospital revenue cycle leaders.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How is your organization addressing revenue cycle challenges associated with regulations?

Mary Beth Remorenko: We participate in many industry associations and groups to help provide feedback. For example, we’re active with the Massachusetts Hospital Association, American Hospital Association, HFMA [Healthcare Financial Management Association], a lot of these industry-specific [groups]. We also have a government relations group where we share feedback on a regular basis on what we think would make the biggest impact on policy changes, whether it's in the state or at the federal level.

Q: CMS issued a final hospital price disclosure rule on Nov. 15. What are your thoughts on the rule and how it could affect provider-payer behavior?

MR: I think it encourages conversations about pricing, and not only pricing, but transparency for patients about their out-of-pocket liability. I think the spirit of pricing transparency is to try to have consumers be more informed and reduce the amount of surprise that's involved. The rule as it's currently written, or how we're translating it, doesn't specify providing patients with their total out-of-pocket liabilities. But as an organization, that's what we think would be most helpful to patients and what patients really want and need. It's nice to see what hospitals charge and what insurers pay, but I think what would be the biggest benefit to the patients is [providing information about] what they're responsible for. That's something we have been working on as an organization — many health systems have been doing that — and we're continuing to work on that regardless of the requirements. We're prioritizing that for our patients and doing things like working on self-service estimates and more of a transparent and self-service revenue cycle.

Q: What is one leadership habit you've developed that has led to improved revenue cycle performance?

MR: We have increased our focus on performance management and metrics and setting specific targets in managing to those. [Partners HealthCare] is figuring out where the gaps are and what the trends are telling us and focusing in the areas where we would get the biggest benefit, either financial or operational.

Q: What qualities do you look for in an ideal revenue cycle team member when hiring? 

MR: I definitely look for critical thinking skills, particularly for revenue cycle employees of the future. As we're continuing to automate a lot of the repetitive, redundant work, a lot of the remaining work does require those critical thinking abilities and problem-solving skills.

Q: What is your advice for other hospital revenue cycle leaders? 

MR: Prioritization is something I would always recommend. [This means] making sure you're spending time on the things that are the most important — and that will yield the biggest value for your organization and patients.

 

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