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Enhance revenue cycle automation efforts with robust professional development

June 9, 2023
June 9, 2023

Revenue cycle staffing has changed significantly since the pandemic began – from remote work to the “Great Resignation,” healthcare facilities have had to shift gears to keep up with expectations for staff engagement and retention. At the same time, hospitals are looking to automation of revenue cycle tasks to improve billing, reduce claim denials, and increase efficiency.

It’s a practical strategy, given increased backlogs, changing regulatory requirements, and staffing shortages. Automation provides improved processes and data analysis to ensure optimal services. By capitalizing on the latest technologies, hospitals are working to do more with less and react to changes in the revenue cycle that occur with greater frequency post-pandemic.

As a result, facilities must be more certain than ever that their staff members are properly trained and certified to perform the specialized and complex tasks related to revenue cycle management. Avenues for professional development and certification have always been positive factors for employee engagement and retention, as they reflect the organization’s ongoing commitment to skill enhancement, employee growth, and increased quality of patient care and satisfaction. However, with the acceleration of automation tools in revenue cycle management, development becomes even more crucial.

The use of the latest automation technologies provides healthcare revenue cycle staff improvements in process and actionable data. The use of data creates a baseline confidence level that can assist staff in working more efficiently. Of course, this also requires competent professionals who understand the increasingly complex data at their disposal and can use it to think through resolution of coding, billing, and other processes.

For instance, revenue cycle positions are increasingly specialized: CDM Management, Denials Management, Case Management, Utilization Review, and Patient Access are just a few of the areas taking on new challenges and requiring a high level of skill. Gaining optimal value of automation tools is crucial, and certainly one way hospitals have met the challenge is through specialization of roles.

With the use of machine learning tools to provide better and more actionable data, revenue cycle staff should have access to regular professional development to guide them through optimal use, as well as learning new and expanded soft skills such as recognizing the social determinants of health that may heavily impact the revenue cycle. Financial insecurity, lack of transportation, and poor health literacy – these all directly impact the entire cycle of healthcare, including billing and reimbursement. When a patient misses appointments regularly, or does not have adequate access to their billing or other records, this can affect their ability to pay. For patients with these types of challenges, avoidance of any type of financial responsibility is often the norm. It is important to learn how to engage these patients and provide support to help them navigate complex care and payment issues. 

Professional development gives staff the opportunity to grow within their present job, as well as follow paths to career advancement. HealthStream, along with partners FinThrive Learn and 4MedPlus, offer certification training as well as pre-employment assessments and test prep assessments for national certification. As a market leader in revenue training, these programs focus on the skills and professional development necessary to not only assess competency, but to help fill knowledge gaps of the revenue cycle staff and use new data sources to their fullest.

HealthStream incorporates the use of personalized learning experiences to target learning opportunities specific to the needs of each individual. This not only fills gaps, it keeps the learner engaged and focused on developing their own career paths.

These programs have a positive impact on not just competency and confidence of staff, they also address knowledge gaps that could impact growth of the organization overall. In the case of one HealthStream client located in Florida, the implementation of the FinThrive Education program helped them address a severe shortage in AHIMA CCS-certified staff. On the eve of opening a new facility, an audit revealed that more than half of the staff was proficient in outpatient coding and were not CCS certified. By working with HealthStream to get a pilot program for training up and running, the facility had a 16% increase in coders’ CCS certification rate during the 10-12 week pilot, and provided the data they needed to plot a path towards 100% CCS certification.

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that revenue cycle professionals have not been immune to the stress, anxiety, and burnout that have afflicted healthcare professionals in general over the past few years. Supporting employees through professional development opportunities Gen Z, the newest cohort of workers within the healthcare industry, highly values professional development opportunities and finding work that provides a sense of purpose. As revenue cycle management continues to incorporate new tools and technologies, it will be imperative to keep these employees up-to-date with professional development.

Learn more about HealthStream's Revenue Cycle Education.