Becker's Health IT + Revenue Cycle 2019: 3 Questions with Mike Simms, Vice President of Revenue Cycle for Cone Health

Mike Simms, MBA, serves as Vice President of Revenue Cycle at Cone Health. 

On October 9th, Mike will serve on the panel "The Mix of IT, Revenue Cycle and Analytics" at Becker's Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place October 9-12, 2019 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Mike's session, click here.

Question: What is the No. 1 principle you uphold and practice to effectively lead a team?

Mike Simms: I strongly believe that you will not succeed as a leader unless you allow for your leaders to be empowered. Your direct reports should be empowered to make decisions regarding their area of responsibility along with collaborative input in making overall decisions. I have always explained to my direct reports that they should consider that they are a store owner. If they were a store owner they would have to make sure that the business was increasing revenue, managing expenses, and being efficient in operations. Using that analogy, that is how I mentor them to lead their areas and they have performed exceptionally at Cone Health.

Q: As a leader, how do you stay connected to the actual work that is being done – and not just by watching others execute, but by executing yourself? If so, how do you balance between leading and executing personally?

BP: To stay connected, I actually learn all of the systems that we utilize. For instance I am in EPIC everyday reviewing patient accounts. Even in my position, I don’t think you can every get away from reviewing patient accounts. The review provides you the opportunity to see the work of the staff and acknowledge their accomplishments. The other reason to reviewing patient accounts is to see if there is a breakdown in a process that has gone undetected. Another example is reviewing patient messages on our payment portal. Reviewing patient messages gives you and idea if the patient is being satisfied in regards to questions about their account. It also allows you to see if your customer service representatives are following the payment plan policy and responding to the patient timely. You have to balance not completing the work yourself but providing the communication to the various areas of issues that you have discovered.

Q: What contributes to better conversations between a health system's financial and clinical leaders?

BP: At Cone we have done a great deal of work on communication with clinical leaders. Using lean, we have involved clinical leaders in understanding that they are part of the Revenue Cycle and that the Revenue Cycle is not just the back Business Office. Clinical leaders as high up as President’s of our hospitals have been involved in various verticals such as patient status and authorization denials. They have grasped a better understanding of the Revenue Cycle and how they can have an impact on the performance of the Revenue Cycle for the health system. This also extends to making sure that clinical departments understand the need to review charges on a daily basis to assure that services are charged and reduce the waste that late charges create. In the end you have to have a commitment by upper leadership to hold clinical leaders accountable for the financial performance of the health system.

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