Hospitals and health systems are estimated to lose $202.6 billion from March 1 through June 20, 2020, according to a recent report from the American Hospital Association (AHA), noting that financial losses are expected to average $50.7 billion per month. These losses are tied to COVID-19 expenses from hospitalizations, lost revenue from postponed or canceled surgeries and other services, including the cost of purchasing personal protective equipment and support for frontline workers.
In order to reduce expenses, many hospitals, health systems and physician groups have cut staff. On-site RCM workforces have moved to work-from-home, have been furloughed or permanently laid off. With the hospital CEOs, CFOs and fellow RCM colleagues I’ve spoken with throughout this pandemic, the irony doesn't seem to be lost on them that they are cutting down on the revenue center that is RCM. It doesn’t have to be that way.
New RCM Resource Allocation Strategies…and Artificial Intelligence
Continuing to manage the revenue cycle matters now and will be even more vital as hospitals, health systems and physician groups emerge from the crisis. However, many of the hospital executives we have talked with since mid-April are not 100% committed to how their administrative staff structure will look, whether brought back full-time, work-from-home and/or tapping specialized external resources.
One thing is clear to us – hospitals are not going back to business as usual, and that includes revenue cycle management. Now more than ever before, the approach to RCM will need to be a flexible combination of all three that allow an enterprise to scale up or down with external resources to gain control over deteriorating revenues today and mitigate unexpected crises in the future. What’s more, if those external resources are an effective RCM partner with a contingency fee structure, they can generate revenues that the enterprise wouldn’t have realized on their own to begin with.
The right balance of people and expertise internally and externally is important, but there’s another pillar of the healthcare RCM of the future, and that’s the right tools. Enter artificial intelligence. The pandemic has inadvertently set the table for AI to transform the revenue cycle – there’s never been a better time to engage what is a game-changing tool for hospital RCM. Hospital and health system CEOs are asking for AI solutions and the benefits they bring to the RCM process, which include generating more cash faster, reducing human touches, increasing efficiencies and lowering costs.
Meduit During the Pandemic
In all of the above, I mentioned a few times needing to find the right external RCM partner, and a good way to gauge that is by looking at how they have been during this pandemic.
1. How have they pivoted to new and safer working conditions and processes?
2. Were they able to remain operational; did they miss a beat?
3. Did they manage on a real-time basis across all their offices and new work-from-home locations?
4. How did they take care of their people?
Here’s Meduit’s answer:
- During the pandemic, we quickly pivoted to move over 50% of our team to home-based working arrangements complete with secure IT equipment to continue working productively.
- For those in our essential business locations, we implemented social distancing and enhanced cleaning in every office, in accordance with federal guidelines for keeping essential workplaces safe for our team members.
- We implemented the Meduit COVID-19 Leave Program for employees who did not want to or could not return to work.
- We developed a special operating dashboard that senior management use in real-time to manage our operations across offices and new remote work-from-home locations to ensure the best coverage possible and maximize productivity.
As we all navigate through this pandemic at the federal, state, county and local levels, Meduit will continue to adjust our operational readiness and work environment to the rules and guidelines of government officials across all our markets, with the best interests of our customers and the safety of our employees in mind. It’s how we can step up and overcome monumental challenges for our customers, as the best independent healthcare RCM partner in the market today.
The Changing Dynamics of Patient Payments
“High unemployment and changing patient financial circumstances are going to increase the need for sophisticated self-pay solutions to ensure that patients are being approached in a manner that is both compassionate and helps them with resources to effectively pay their bills. Partnering with an RCM solutions team is critical since most health systems do not have the staff to effectively manage this process themselves.”