Five Actions to Bolster Payment

Julie Auton, February 1, 2018

4. Develop a high-performing team built on customer service skills.

Nothing beats a top-notch business office staff, who are adept at operations, possess content knowledge, and offer excellent people skills.

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Building a high-functioning workforce starts with hiring people who are proficient in dealing with others.

MetroHealth observes applicants before offering them a position. "We hire good customer service people with experience at department stores, restaurants, and other places involving aggravating situations with consumers," says Graham.

Establishing a service-focused team also requires ongoing training and staff development.

"We have a revenue cycle education team dedicated to training," says Collins. "The trainers have a learning portal covering all kinds of courses, including customer service. We provide education about the entire revenue cycle, no matter where an employee fits in."

To spark creative thinking among his team, Josh Welch, executive director of revenue cycle at John Muir Health in Walnut Creek, California, which has two acute care hospitals, an inpatient behavioral health center, and 350 employed primary care and specialty physicians, initiated a program called "Revination" in which staff are rewarded for contributing process improvement ideas.

"Employees need to feel like they can suggest an idea and know that it's going to be carried forth and at least vetted, and then involve them in the process," says Welch. "With our Revination initiative, it's constant communication, sharing success stories, and celebrating people's [input], and even hopefully recognizing employees monetarily."

5. Know when to outsource expertise to minimize service and technology gaps.

Many health systems have learned that it's easier and more effective to outsource portions of their revenue cycle services to outside entities who can address specific limitations.

South Nassau Communities Hospital uses an outside vendor for online payment. "Our vendor has set up a portal in which a patient can go online and make their payment, because our IT department doesn't have the staff or technology to achieve that," says Abdool Razack, senior director of revenue cycle. "It's definitely cheaper to do it outside than internally."

Julie Auton

Julie Auton is the leadership programs editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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