Reducing Your Staffing Headaches

Revenue cycle management has long been a targeted area to rein in cost, accelerate revenue, and strengthen a healthcare system’s financial success.  Pre-COVID, healthcare organizations were encountering staffing shortages with the most problematic areas pertaining to nurses and physicians. Post COVID, staffing shortages are occurring throughout the system and revenue cycle is no exception.  Healthcare providers are now facing critical situations due to low staffing and are exploring new ways to accomplish their goals.

Today, successful executives are thinking outside the box to solve their staffing shortages.  Outsourcing and technology is at the forefront of solutions for many of those executives.  Most executives are looking to new technology to eliminate some of the tasks normally performed by team members.  Many are also looking beyond traditional outsourcing solutions to fill the gaps.  Below are a few things to consider when addressing your post pandemic staffing needs.   

  1.  Assess Your Staffing Needs

Most executives can tell you how many openings they have but a breakdown of openings by function can help one understand where the greatest needs are.  Additionally, a more granular look to see if the position requires human interaction or if there is an IT solution to eliminate the task.  Identifying team member needs is the first step to overcoming staffing issues.

  1.  Cross Training

Like most large corporations, healthcare systems often find themselves departmentalized.  The business office operates in silos and team members do not cross departmental lines defined by function.  Utilizing skilled team members in multiple departments, based on workloads can alleviate some of your initial staffing requirements.  Cross training between departments can pay big dividends.

  1.  Internal IT Solutions

Many providers have known problems with interoperability between systems that result in human interaction.  Many times, IT does not have the bandwidth to address these problems and “workarounds” are created that involve a team member having to perform a manual task to keep the system producing accurate information.  These known areas are the low hanging fruit to reduce staffing needs.  A look at existing IT projects that have not been completed or a meeting between the revenue cycle leaders and IT can almost always result in reduced team member requirements.

  1.  Existing Vendor Partners

In your existing vendor partner pool, there is probably one or two who are valued partners and have a great deal of knowledge in revenue cycle solutions.  A meeting with those partners explaining the needs often results in that partner either being able to solve your need or they can help direct you to a company that can.  A good vendor partner stays abreast of existing and rising technology and is happy to share their knowledge.

  1.  Technology and Automation

There has never been a time when more technology has been applied to all aspects of healthcare and that includes the revenue cycle.  Mundane functions are being replaced with RA (bots) eliminating the need for human interaction.  Many jobs where functions are repetitive can successfully be accomplished using technical automation instead of staff.

Many companies are producing “bolt on ” applications that perform tasks traditionally performed by team members (insurance verification, eligibility, claims processing and follow up, etc…) and are typically charged “per account”.  Identifying the areas where you need staffing in Step 1 above can steer you into the direction of where you need the most help.  Once identified, you can search for technology and applications that can reduce or eliminate that need long term.  Don’t limit yourself to just those most troublesome areas.  Relief in other areas of the revenue cycle can help to repurpose existing team members in areas that require human interaction.  As mentioned in Step 4 above, existing partners can help direct you to potential new partners.

  1. Outsourcing

Historically, providers have enlisted third parties to perform revenue cycle functions where either the provider could not perform the function as efficiently or did not have the staffing to accomplish the task.  Today providers are looking to those legacy partners and beyond to redefine the scope of the partnership.  Working with their outsource partners to expand the scope of their projects and to see what technology is potentially available to them from that partner.  Many partners perform a single task for a system but have many other solutions to offer.  Meeting with those trusted partners can result in additional solutions or services that can help to reduce staffing needs.  A successful partner is already incorporating newer technology in their services and many times can help migrate their internal solutions to your organization.   

Additionally, providers are considering outsourcing revenue cycle functions that have not historically been outsourced.  When considering these areas, researching to see if an automated technology solution exists is paramount before involving additional external personnel.  If the function requires human interaction, a check to see if vendor partners have available personnel to perform these functions on a price per hour basis while being led by internal staff is always a great short-term solution.

In short, there are many ways for revenue cycle executives to reduce their staffing headaches.  Some internal, some external but all begin with a thorough examination of needs versus the number of openings needed for the way things are done today. Some of the long-term solutions will require system IT resources and short term “work arounds”.  A trusted vendor partner can help you navigate your plan for success. 

Call today to discuss how MedCo can help you eliminate your staffing headaches with technology, outsourcing, and trained personnel!