HFMA: Better revenue cycle strategies needed at most healthcare facilities

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Despite the economy's instability, researchers have found that most facilities lack high-performance revenue cycle strategies that balance patient satisfaction and finances, based on the findings of a report released by Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA).

The report, released Nov. 5 at HFMA’s Revenue Cycle Strategies Conference in Chicago, exposed disparities among hospital sites deemed “high performing” and those that were not.

The report sampled data from 5,000 non-government, short-term acute hospitals and 14 high-performance hospitals to examine criteria specific to six categories: people, processes, technology, metrics, communications and culture.

“All too often leadership is unable to discern how to focus organizational efforts accordingly,” the report read.

After studying facilities for successful strategies regarding revenue cycles and patient care, authors noted several components that permitted some facilities to fare better than others, and offered suggestions on how to modify the results of those who don’t.

Among the top suggestions were those surrounding organizational culture and employees. The report found that facilities with high levels of employee turnover saw revenues diminish and these turnovers stemmed from limited experience and training.

The authors noted that high-performing sites were more apt to be extra selective in their hiring process and provided significantly more training days for new hires—15 percent more than others.

In addition, sites with an increased emphasis on employee relations also performed better. In fact, HFMA found that high-performance sites were 42 percent more likely to offer incentive-based programs for staff. Researchers also found that 43 percent of all high-performance sites offered salary increases to employees and 64 percent offered flexible work arrangements, compared with 19 percent of all others.

In most scenarios, high-performing sites showed increased patient communications regarding payments, insurance and overall satisfaction of care. They also found that high-performance sites were 41 percent more likely to offer financial counseling to their patients, and 36 percent more likely to review patient satisfaction than were other sites.

The authors found that most, if not all, high-performing organizations had shown a goal-oriented organizational culture, accelerated patient relations and took action to not only set, but achieve goals.

After studying key practices in high-performance facilities, authors made suggestions to help improve performance in other facilities, which included:

  • Offering classes to provide revenue cycle training to improve awareness and understanding;
  • Identifying and recognizing success through incentive programs;
  • Updating technology systems;
  • Using a patient-friendly communication system for scheduling and registration;
  • Establishing a facility-wide expectation of success;
  • Enforcing a system of accountability for report and monitoring practices; and
  • Implementing a clear system of understanding of financial issues with patients.