What 7 revenue cycle leaders have told Becker's about labor challenges this year

Labor shortages are one of the key issues looming over revenue cycle leaders. Here is what seven leaders have told Becker's this year about the challenges they are facing or how they are tackling those issues: 

Julie Deason. Director of Single Billing Office at Piedmont Augusta (Ga.). Human capital and talent is a major concern for healthcare systems right now. The pandemic had a paradigm shift in the workforce and as baby boomers retire, millennials really need to step up and have better succession planning.

Bart Fiser. Vice President of Revenue Cycle and Managed Care at Cape Fear Valley Health System (Fayetteville, N.C.). My key focus right now is staff stabilization. Through the pandemic, our follow-up teams and our front-line staff were greatly impacted due to several different forces, but the biggest force has been the advancement of remote work. We had not been set up as a remote location. We had not had workers working remotely. It was an idea we entertained, but just could just never cross that bridge. The pandemic happened and we were forced to send some people home for what we considered their health protection, and then this became more of a retention strategy as other systems began recruiting folks to work for them remotely. We have been implementing multiple strategies around the remote base and continue to do so. I have about 30 to 40 percent, roughly, of the staff now working remotely full time, permanently. Our goal is to continue to push that to where we're somewhere around 80, 85 percent. This will allow us to recruit from other areas, recruit nationally and become a national competitor for staffing. That's one of the major focuses that I'll be working on over the next several months as developing internal policy, the infrastructure that goes with that.

Gary Long. Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at R1 RCM. We see [labor shortages] as an unfortunate circumstance for our industry, but the way we address the market, we see ourselves as being a viable, strategic option for them not to only survive this particular environment that we're in today, but hopefully position their organization so they can thrive once the economic environment gets better. 

Patrick McDermott. Vice President of Revenue Cycle at Scripps Health (San Diego). High vacancies and leaves of absence — which may top 15 percent or more — are the top issue for many RCM departments. Given this exacerbation and difficulty to recruit and retain talent, we need to do more "smart-sourcing" and invest in digital workers to create overflow and redundancy capability.

James O'Connell. Director of Revenue Cycle at Inspira Health (Vineland, N.J.). Currently, I believe the greatest challenge to most hospitals is maintaining staff in the revenue cycle. Filling open positions in both the front-end registration and back-end patient accounting areas has become very difficult. Inspira, like many hospitals, is running at only a fraction of the budgeted positions for these areas. 

We are also experiencing turnover after people hired into these positions have been in place long enough to transfer into other areas of the hospital. It is not unusual for the business office and registration to be the entry point into the system for someone seeking other opportunities. However, now with the shortage of qualified candidates out there, it is only exacerbating the situation when we train someone for three to six months, and then they immediately transfer out of the revenue cycle to a position that pays them 5 percent to 10 percent more per hour.

Sheldon Pink. Vice President of Revenue Cycle at Luminis Health (Annapolis, Md.). I believe we have to be better leaders because retention is a universal challenge. Retention will be a statistic that leaders will be judged by in the future. It's not only going to be revenue cycle performance. As a vice president of RCM, I will not keep hiring a director every three or four months. Based on our market dynamics, people are not leaving for the dollar. They're going because they don't like their leader. After all, other jobs are available, so as leaders, we must focus on developing our team and being better managers.

Lisa Schillaci. Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations at Houston Methodist. We must be deliberate in encouraging our employees to contribute and grow in ways that are most meaningful to them. Talent management must be pursued daily, with focus on meeting our employees' needs of connectedness, flexibility and their overall well-being.  

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