CFO Experiences “Aha” Moment After Personally Visiting With Patients
Clearly, I wasn’t the only one walking away from Healthcare Finance Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit at HIMSS in Chicago a week ago with some revenue cycle food-for-thought. Healthcarefinancenews.com published this insightful article with some key takeaways from this summit, which by no surprise focused largely on price transparency, improving patient collections and tying patient experience to value-based outcomes.
Keynote speaker Bert Zimmerli, CFO at Intermountain Healthcare, pointed out that as the largest healthcare organization in Utah they used to get publicly criticized for the way they went about collecting patient’s bills. Now, over a decade later with Zimmerli at the helm, and after ramping up their communications and collection processes, the organization is seen as a kinder, gentler version of its old self.
Zimmerli shared his “a-ha” moment. It came while speaking with several families in their homes about their health care bills. Overall, he found that families who are in debt to a health care organization do not respond to statements simply because they are overwhelmed. Receiving a statement from a hospital is simply another bill they are not able to pay, which in turn is put on a stack of other past due notices, Zimmerli explained.
It was then Zimmerli said he realized Intermountain Health had to be a better steward for their patient’s welfare, not just physically and emotionally, but financially as well. This sounds strikingly familiar. MediRevv’s CEO often says, “Patient care doesn’t end at the exit door.” He means, as Zimmerli discovered, that the continuum of the care provided to patients must extend beyond the time of treatment at your facility to the moment patients pay their bill, and beyond.
Florida Hospital VP of Finance Jeff Hurst’s presentation focused on price transparency challenges and the need to target whole-person health and well being instead of healthcare assistance. Hurst shared a story about his wife, who also works in healthcare finance, receiving a statement from the hospital. After an unreasonable amount of time for the two healthcare finance experts to figure out his wife’s charges, it was then that Hurst said he realized the need for a total revamp of the hospital’s statements.
Hurst said the hospital has also improved their patient estimate accuracy and timeliness along with education of estimates. Hurst went on to discuss the need for the hospital to be an advocate for their patients and engage them proactively. He insisted the hospital should help patients secure all forms of available assistance, healthcare and non-health care related including county, state and federal programs along with food and cash assistance.
The great news for providers and patients alike is that HIMSS is beginning to put more focus and structure around the patient-centric transformation that is inevitable to revenue cycle. As I think back to Zimmerli’s keynote address two concepts stick with me: “It’s the potentially disruptive innovation that is the engine for economic growth.” And “This is personal.”
How do you fare with your patients when it comes to their financial welfare? We're listening.