Normalizing the Revenue Cycle During Pandemic Recovery

Perspective from Tony Spagnolo, Vice President, Operational Excellence, Medix 

We have all seen the statistics and, in many ways, they still don’t seem real. Yet, like so many people affected by the pandemic, revenue cycle leaders wake up every day to face the harsh reality of what COVID-19 has done to the healthcare landscape. The American Hospital Association estimated a 2020 cumulative loss of $323B within the industry due to a combination of factors, including:

  • Lost revenue from canceled services
  • Additional costs associated with support for frontline workers, such as PPE
  • Direct hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients

Add to this the fact that millions of Americans have been furloughed or lost their jobs outright, and we are now faced with a situation where the payer mix has drastically changed, causing revenue cycle leaders to reevaluate where to allocate their resources to capitalize on financial opportunities.

However, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. As vaccines distribution continues and employers adapt to the demands of a changing workforce, revenue cycle leaders have reasons to think positively about what may be possible in the months and years ahead.

Sources of Optimism in Revenue Cycle

First, insurance enrollment is rebounding as people take advantage of the Biden Administration’s special enrollment period on the ACA exchanges. In fact, 2.8 million Americans added insurance coverage over the course of this six month period.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is reimbursing telehealth services, offering a much-needed lifeline of revenue to the healthcare industry. There is general consensus that this policy will not go away any time soon. 

Finally, many organizations have reduced cost by sending their eligible employees home to work remotely. Memorial Health System and ProMedica have each reported successful outcomes adopting a work-from-home model, and it’s possible that their policies remain in place long-term, as well.

The On-Going Question: Where Do We Go From Here?

To keep pace with the changing world of work in the healthcare industry, revenue cycle leaders will likely need to make adjustments to their talent strategies.  First, hard collections in today’s environment is an outlier. Most organizations have implemented fresh, patient-friendly tactics that show compassion and partnership. To stay in the game, you need talent who understand that approach.  

Next, change has become the new normal. Healthcare organizations need talent that are adaptable and flexible to meet changing revenue cycle demands. Similarly, if your organization is considering a remote work strategy, the profile of your ideal candidate will change. Certain candidates are well-equipped to thrive at home, while others may not be. 

Lastly, recovery will be a slow process. Historically, the U.S. economy sees a dramatic increase in contract labor in post-recession periods. It may make sense to consider adding temporary staff to add flexibility and mitigate risk in the coming months.

Whatever strategy you choose to work towards revenue cycle recovery, be ready to adjust.  If there’s one thing we’ve all learned through COVID-19, it’s that we can’t grow too comfortable as things change quickly. 

Is your team searching for solutions to enable you to build great teams on the road to recovery? Talk to a Medix revenue cycle hiring expert today. 

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