How 7 hospital execs are attracting, retaining RCM & IT talent

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As hospitals and health systems face challenging shortages, Becker's Hospital Review asked leaders to share their insight on retaining and attracting revenue cycle management and IT talent.

Below are seven hospital executives who shared their strategy, listed in alphabetical order. 

Pamela Banchy, RN. Vice President of Clinical Informatics and CIO at Western Reserve Health System (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio): Western Reserve Hospital supports a culture of patient-centric care. The culture allows for employees in all departments to be part of an organization that has many benefits. Western Reserve Hospital provides unique benefits, has a strong focus on diversity, recruits through various social media platforms and has a strong commitment to our employees. As a smaller organization, we support our employees in their professional growth opportunities and continuous growth.

Jim Daly. Vice President and CIO of Washington Regional Medical System (Fayetteville, Ark.): It is certainly a challenging time to recruit and retain staff. Our approach to both of these dimensions is very similar — focus on strong employee engagement, provide challenging assignments and be flexible. We spend considerable time listening to our team members and recruits to understand what they are looking to get out of their careers, and match those desires to tasks or projects. Understanding that our current environment holds challenges both personally and professionally, we offer flexibility in terms of remote work, flexible hours and time off so that a meaningful balance may be met.

Tracy Donegan. Chief Information and Innovation Officer at MLK Community Healthcare (Los Angeles): The pandemic has shaken up our notion that a work-life balance can be neatly achieved. What is more, it has taught us that considering the "whole person" of our employees may even be more critical for employee retention. We set up our employees for success when we plan their job and professional growth in the context of their life outside of work.

Kimberly Scaccia. Vice President of Revenue Cycle at Mercyhealth Wisconsin and Illinois (Rockford, Ill.): During this time of "the great resignation," we are pulling out all the stops. Many studies show that employees want to feel valued at work, and this includes being in an environment that is fair and holds personnel accountable. Becoming a metric-driven organization, recruiting top talent, providing true, written hybrid work-from-home options, and focusing on education are key. Additionally, our new vice president of people and culture has partnered with us to ensure we are competitive in our benefits and our promotion strategies, ensuring opportunities for those within.   

Sunitha Reddy. Vice President of Operations at Prime Healthcare Services (Ontario, Calif.): At Prime Healthcare, revenue cycle management is an integral component of our hospital operations and a key area of focus for our corporate and hospital leadership teams. In order to successfully and consistently attract and retain top talent, Prime prioritizes growth opportunities for our RCM staff across our 45-hospital health system. We have created a comprehensive training and development program to ensure successful onboarding of new team members, and we provide opportunities for continuous advancement for existing staff. We have also established Corporate RCM team leaders with expertise in revenue cycle systems, technologies and analytics to better support RCM staff in their daily operations. Because our RCM department leadership teams work so closely together on strategic projects and initiatives, we take every opportunity to cross-train staff and promote opportunities for lateral growth, which helps us retain talent within the Prime Healthcare family. In addition, we regularly conduct market analyses to ensure compensation scales are competitive and try to take every opportunity to celebrate successes and recognize staff for their valuable contributions.

Stephanie Wells, System Vice President of Revenue Cycle and Health Information Management, and Laura Wilt, Vice President and CIO at Ochsner Health (New Orleans): Continually aligning our employees to our mission ensures that we are attracting and retaining the right kind of talent for Ochsner. This is done through system leadership meetings, "State of the System" webinars, email updates and other weekly updates. Our divisions communicate the information to our front-line team members to ensure that everyone is working in service to the same goals for our patients and our community. At Ochsner Learning Institute, which provides internal educational opportunities on relevant topics facing today's workforce, we require our leaders to complete 40 hours of education annually. In the IT and RCM divisions, we have our own training academies where we focus on leader and team education, which helps our employees advance internally. One way we train our leaders to serve is by prioritizing time to consistently round with team members. Rounding with team members, in addition to collecting regular surveys, ensures that we know what is important to them and allows Ochsner to identify and quickly correct any obstacles that they face. This investment helps us retain talent because we prove to our staff that we are interested in their daily work lives and in improving processes. That, in turn, helps establish trust and build long-term relationships. 

We are committed, whenever possible, to promoting from within. To do this, we are always looking at our succession planning and any gaps in those plans. If we identify gaps, we also prioritize mitigation strategies to advance our team members when an opportunity exists. We want our employees to know that we value them and the opportunity for promotion is one of many ways we show that. Ochsner is focused on and committed to diversity, equity and inclusion as we know that teams perform better when different voices are heard and involved. Our DEI strategy doesn't just revolve around improving health outcomes and equity for our patients — we also continually evolve by offering programs that focus on inclusive recruitment, retention, workforce planning and career development. To grow future leaders, we have a robust fellowship program at Ochsner that includes opportunities for employees on digital and RCM tracks. This fellowship program offers in-depth training, allowing for exposure to many aspects of healthcare via employee shadowing, independent projects, and involvement in high-level meetings. To place talent in high-demand roles within our organization, we provide industry-specific education and preparation through programs like our Patient Access Workforce Development Program, Coding Academy, Epic Academy, and Analytics and Machine Learning Programs.

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