Ballad Health forms strategic partnership to develop revenue cycle regional operations center: 6 details

Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health entered into a strategic partnership with Ensemble Health Partners to develop a new regional operations center in the Appalachian Highlands to support IT and revenue cycle systems.

"Many health systems, including Ballad Health, have a revenue cycle platform built on a framework tied to payment models that are no longer contemporary," said CFO of Ballad Health Lynn Krutak in a news release. "With the rise in value-based payment, much higher patient liability due to high deductibles and with expansion of risk-based models of payment, our processes must reflect the current environment. We sought a partner that has helped other health systems succeed in achieving the goal of patient satisfaction, a smooth process for registration and discharge, accurate collection of data and information and an efficient process for billing and collection."

Six things to know:

1. The new center expects to employ up to 500 people when complete and will serve hospitals and healthcare organizations across the U.S.

2. Ballad chairman and CEO Alan Levine said the health system plans to transfer the approximately 1,100 revenue cycle jobs it currently has to Ensemble in addition to adding 500 people. The health system has notified its revenue cycle team of the upcoming change and is making an immediate transition to Ensemble, which will work out of current Ballad locations until the new center is ready.

3. Ensemble has more than 5,000 associates currently providing services to health systems including Bon Secours Mercy Health, The Christ Hospital Health Network and ThedaCare. The company has worked with Ballad Health since 2015, when the health system formed from the combination of Wellmont Health System and Mountain State Health Alliance.

4. With the partnership, Ballad aims to take a new approach to revenue cycle management that prioritizes patient satisfaction and insurance company engagement on value-based arrangements. In 2019, the health system's board approved a plan to "reinvent" the revenue cycle and modernize its functions; the system selected Ensemble as its full revenue cycle services partner.

5. Ballad will overhaul its revenue cycle process by incorporating new technology and analytics as well as best practices to boost the patient experience.

6. On May 6, the health system reported a net operating loss of $11.2 million in the third quarter of the 2020 fiscal year, largely due to pandemic-related declines. The health system reported revenue dropped 6 percent with inpatient surgeries declining 10.7 percent. The health system did implement cost-reduction strategies including staff furloughs and executive leader salary cuts, but still expects significant losses in the next quarter.

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