A survey conducted through the Healthcare Financial Management Association's (HFMA) Pulse Survey program and sponsored by Alpha Health provides intriguing insights into the direction of the new reality of RCM.
The purpose of the survey -- conducted between May 19, 2020 to June 22, 2020 -- was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on revenue cycle operations at health systems and hospitals across the U.S. It received feedback from 587 chief financial officers and revenue cycle leaders at hospitals and health systems across the United States.
Findings from the Survey
According to the findings from the survey, 75 percent of health systems and hospitals will permanently change revenue cycle organizations due to COVID-19. Even more eye-opening is that nearly one-third (32.4%) are planning to for more work-from-home permanently positions.
View additional findings below:
Revcycleintelligence.com points out some additional benefits from permanently transitioning RCM to work-from-home:
Making remote work a permanent option has the potential to reduce rented real estate costs and other expenses on the health system, which could be crucial to helping hospitals overcome the $323 billion in financial losses they are expected to see by the end of 2020.
Colette Lasack, VP of revenue cycle operations at The University of Kansas Health System, sees benefits from a recruitment and retention standpoint:
“A very good majority are very happy working from home and have found that balance and want to continue to do so,” said Lasack who sent around 270 revenue cycle employees home during the pandemic on top of the 200-something who already worked remotely.
In Kansas, the health system is now looking at remote work as a long-term strategy for revenue cycle management and other non-patient-facing departments and positions, even relisting open positions as strictly remote positions.
Is the Industry Ready?
While healthcare executives and leaders see the benefits of shifting the RCM workforce to permanent work-from-home, it is not as simple as giving the employee a laptop and getting to work. The shift to a more remote workforce will hinge on technology and automation.
While nearly 33% of healthcare systems and hospitals plan to move to permanent work-from-home, only 14% of respondents plan to automate more functions for business continuity.
While the nearly 33% of healthcare systems and hospitals plan to move to permanent work-from-home, only 14% of respondents plan to automate more functions for business continuity.
The overall numbers for automation are alarming:
The benefits of automation for RCM are undeniable, and we have noted on Modernizing RCM with AI that business resiliency and technology are critical for RCM. Healthcare leaders and executives will be facing insurmountable challenges if they do not properly evaluate their processes, identify which processes and tasks can be automated, and deploy technologies to enable their workforce to be successful. Whether or not the industry is ready remains to be seen. However, with the right mix of technologies along with revamped policies and procedures, there is room for optimism.