Healthcare Staff Retention Revenue Strategies

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Finding and keeping high-quality staff is a continual challenge in healthcare, especially in a tight labor market. Many of the current conversations take place around nurses and physicians, both in terms of shortage of personnel and retention, yet those high-profile roles are just part of the story. For a facility to operate at peak efficiency, attention must be paid to all other areas of the healthcare industry, both patient-facing and back office. A prime example involves revenue cycle staff.

Revenue Cycle Needs More Focus

“When we talk about the revenue cycle team, we’re discussing an area that often doesn’t get a lot of attention within the organization,” says Susan Gurzynski-Wells, MS, RHIA, Senior Product Manager, Revenue Cycle for HealthStream. “Yet these employees usually make up between 9 percent and 12 percent of total staff, and often their onboarding consists of some basic training around how to use the electronic health records system and how to register a patient. There’s not a lot of background given to these new employees with regard to what they are doing, and why they are doing it.”

Turnover Challenges Growing Revenue Cycle Operations

That spells trouble in a healthcare environment facing a double-edged sword when it comes to staffing and retention. An NSI survey found that 42.3 percent of hospitals surveyed anticipated an increase in their labor force during 2019, while at the same time hospital turnover rate was averaging 19.1 percent. (NSI, 2019) A closer look at turnover rates is even more troubling—according to a Leaders For Today poll, 42.8% of respondents had been with their hospital fewer than two years; 65.6 percent less than five years; and 37 percent said they planned to leave within the next two years. (Leaders For Today, 2017) That kind of exit ratio makes everyday operations, not to mention rolling out new initiatives and protocols, less effective and more costly due to continual additional training and implementation needs. This kind of employee churn also creates a severe deficit in the important intangible asset of institutional knowledge.

Identify and Promote Career Pathways

The good news is, many of the same recruitment and retention strategies that have been deployed to tackle nurse hiring and retention in recent years also work well for other teams, including the revenue cycle staff. For instance, clearly marked pathways to career advancement that include mentoring opportunities (as both mentor and mentee), as well as continuing education have great potential.

Promote Purpose and Career Development

Providing a strong sense of purpose will help with retention from the outset. In addition to learning provided for nurses, training and onboarding for team members like coders could be mined for ways to make revenue cycle staff feel more integral and valued right away, Gurzynski- Wells says.

“Revenue cycle employees see other areas of staff moving immediately into credentialing opportunities, for instance” she explains. “In the meantime, there’s nothing like a ‘revenue cycle university’ that they can graduate from. You wind up with someone in a role who can do the mechanics of the job competently, but not really understand what they are doing as it affects the whole picture. And with no professional development, he or she doesn’t see a way to grow. People leave these jobs because they are offered more money elsewhere, not because they are unhappy. If they see a way to learn, be promoted, and matriculate their way into leadership, then they are much more likely to stay and become very valuable to the organization. They want a career, not a job.”

This blog post excerpts the HealthStream article Growth Potential: Career Pathways Offering Mentorship and Education Can Engage and Motivate Revenue Cycle Staff. Other content about enhancing and protecting the revenue cycle workforce includes:

  • Create a multifaceted path around retention
  • Mentoring programs also enhance performance
  • Certifications, badges also have strong appeal
  • Pre-employment testing protects employer investment

Continue reading the full article.