As we enter a new decade, the healthcare industry is preparing for significant shifts. Few areas will encounter a more substantial impact than the revenue cycle department of health systems. It’s an opportunity for leaders in this department to embrace changes and position their organizations to face new challenges head-on.
The role of revenue cycle leadership will continue to evolve. New positions such as the Chief Revenue Cycle Officer of the VP of Revenue Cycle will bridge the gap between multiple hospital departments. Lasting impact and success won’t come from simply having the right resume skills. The right mix of people skills for revenue cycle management is what will allow people in those roles to become major instruments of change.
Let’s look at a few of the most necessary of those skills:
1) Understanding of technology skills
Technology is vital in the hospital revenue cycle. Today and tomorrow’s executives need a deep understanding of how to use it. From organizing codes to admitting patients, EHRs and EMRs will be increasingly necessary to streamline the billings and collections process.
That understanding includes revenue cycle leaders playing a critical role in patient registration and patient and staff education. “From a revenue cycle perspective, getting the most accurate information upfront starts with patient scheduling and patient registration,” according to Gary Marlow, former Vice President of Finance at Beverly Hospital and Addison Gilbert Hospital. “That provides the groundwork by which claims can be billed and collected in the most efficient and effective manner possible.”
As the transition to value-based care continues, health systems are tasked with reporting on measures such as patient satisfaction, quality of care, and cost of care. But there’s a problem if patients and staff don’t understand the intricacies of this transition. “Internally, all healthcare facilities should have an education component. Hospitals are losing money,” according to Ginalisa Monterroso, CEO of Medicaid Advisory Group. “Everybody’s walking in with the wrong insurance. Everybody’s walking in with the wrong drug coverage. What the executives are missing internally is that education component.”
2) Capability to see the big picture
As the role of revenue cycle leaders expands, the need to coordinate with hospital operations across multiple levels does with it. Team members will need to go beyond collections to process the importance of innovations throughout the system.
Working together with other departments, these leaders will need to improve integration across managed care and insurance contracting to see how IT innovation will impact changes.
What does this mean? Revenue cycle leaders will not only need to understand the billing and collections process but also understand additional segments. These include contract payment and coding accuracy to avoid claim denials. It’s much more of a big picture position than it’s been in the past.
3) Ability to build connections
All hospitals will run into issues of segmentation and not making the necessary connections throughout systems. However, it’s now more important than ever that revenue cycle executives can build bridges and collaborate across multiple areas. It’s crucial to their success that they leverage their influence to extend into key places including:
- building relationships with registration staff across hospital locations
- connecting with physicians and nurses
- working at both the system and individual facility level
- understanding how their leadership styles impact the organization and the team
4) Capacity to educate and mentor
Revenue cycle managers frequently must educate and guide other employers, particularly regarding standard practices and hospital regulations. Each teachable moment is another opportunity to bridge interdepartmental relationships and to foster better communication at all levels.
It takes patience to get new team members or even seasoned veterans up to speed on new information. Instead of viewing these as obstacles, revenue cycle leaders should embrace these opportunities to connect with coworkers on the importance of what it is they do.
5) Resourcefulness to provide what we expect from great leaders
Along with the particular people skills above, revenue cycle management leaders also need the traditional leadership skills we’ve come to respect. Those include:
- Excellent communication skills: The ability to communicate actively between departments, with patients, and colleagues cannot be understated.
- Team player: Interaction is such a vital part of an RCM role. It’s not enough to be knowledgeable and experienced in the revenue cycle. Leaders must be able to effectively interact with a host of different people.
- Passion for healthcare: Talented revenue cycle leaders have the background to work in a wide range of fields. To succeed in the healthcare industry, these leaders must have a passion for it. Their roles are long-term opportunities to create smarter and more efficient healthcare systems.
- Flexibility: In healthcare, many issues are not black or white. That’s why there are often moments when even proven methods may not be effective. Revenue cycle management leaders should acknowledge this and be able to find new resolutions that can address the complexities of the industry.
The bottom line
Revenue cycle management plays an incredibly integrative role in healthcare. They must navigate between healthcare staff, administration, patients, insurers, and many others to deliver the solutions needed for the long-term viability of their hospital systems.
Ultimately, the right mix of resume skills and people skills will help them shine as the best candidates to grow with hospitals.
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