Healthcare has been experiencing unprecedented labor challenges since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this hasn’t been limited to the clinical world.
The administration side has also seen challenges, with leaders opting to invest in remote labor and rethink much of their hospital revenue cycle management staffing strategy. Some have even considered outsourcing to hospital billing services. To keep up, leaders like you will need to stay on top of how these challenges are impacting healthcare organizations and how hospital revenue cycle management solutions can step in to fill the gaps. To help you get started, here’s an overview of what you need to know about hospital revenue cycle management labor challenges today.
It’s Taking Longer to Fill Senior-Level Positions
While many of the labor and staffing challenges in the past have focused on positions like billing and coding, a recent survey has revealed that it’s taking a long time to fill positions at all levels, but especially senior positions.
For example, the survey found that to fill an entry-level revenue cycle talent position (someone with 0-5 years’ experience), it takes an average of 84 days. For mid-level talent (workers with 6-10 years’ experience), it takes 153 days to fill these positions, and for senior-level revenue cycle talent (people with over 10 years’ experience), it takes an average of 207 days to fill vacant positions. This challenge will only become more impactful as illness, retirement, and career changes continue to affect the field .
For organizations with goals like maintaining healthy hospital revenue cycle management, all of these gaps are a problem. But for senior roles in particular, it can mean that revenue cycle departments are left without key leadership, just as things like account receivable management services, and keeping healthy KPIs are becoming more difficult.
The Cost to Fill Specific Position Levels is High—Higher Than Leaders Might Know
While time is a challenge, organizations cannot ignore the cost to fill these positions. This is especially true since the COVID-19 pandemic has left so many organizations with cash flow and profitability issues, eating away at the margins of hospitals across the board.
That same survey found that it costs an average of $2,167 to recruit for entry level positions, $3,581 to recruit for mid-level, and $5,699 to recruit for senior level positions . And while these numbers are informative, they don’t paint a complete picture. The survey notes that the actual recruitment costs are likely higher since revenue cycle leaders often can’t see the full cost of recruitment handled by HR and marketing. Additionally, training and onboarding new revenue cycle management staff can be a lengthy and complicated job, especially as revenue cycle processes are constantly changing and things like healthcare denial management in the USA becomes more difficult as payers and CMS respond to the weight of a pandemic and population changes with more complex billing requirements.
All of this is complicated by a shift toward working longer hours, and pressures to be more productive as hospitals focus on improving the patient financial experience through more sophisticated and friendly hospital billing services that align with what patients experience in retail and finance settings. Additionally, in general, the healthcare field is suffering from widespread burnout, contributing to morale issues that are making adapting even more difficult. This is why many organizations are considering a range of hospital revenue cycle management solutions to ensure their future financial health.
Hospital Leaders are Stepping Into Outsourcing
Revenue cycle leaders are using many different solutions to address complexity, ranging from technology to completely new approaches to remote work, but one tactic stands out. While outsourcing is nothing new, many leaders are taking a fresh look to address new and emerging challenges. In the process, they’re finding new benefits of outsourcing that they hadn’t previously realized.
Becker’s Hospital Review has been speaking with hospital leaders to find out how they’re handling these challenges and to dig into how they’re using outsourcing. Elise Myers, Vice President, Revenue Cycle Clinical Revenue Integrity, Providence Health & Services in Renton, Washington, highlights their approach to outsourcing in addition to their expansion of how they’re using technology. They’ve examined where they can leverage tech and looked into outsourcing to supplement tasks they’ve decided are best kept in-house. Part of this has involved admitting that they “won’t be the best at everything”. It’s then progressed into relying on their vendor partners to improve operations and act as a supplement to their team. This has been used strategically to address areas where hiring was taking longer than the organization can tolerate .
The result has been an improvement in cash flow—something that’s been critical during the pandemic. It’s allowed them to reduce denials, speed up payments, and improve their operations through analytics.
It’s not hard to find other examples of healthcare organizations outsourcing hospital billing services and hospital revenue cycle management. For example, recent revenue cycle outsourcing announcements include MarinHealth, Day Kimball, Borrego Health, and VillageMD who have outsourced services including billing, revenue cycle management, and collections .
To learn more about how you can start taking on these challenges by outsourcing, start here.
 AKASA, “Survey: Recruitment Costs, Long Hiring Timelines Negatively Impact Healthcare Finance Teams,” Cision US Inc., 26 January 2022. Available: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-recruitment-costs-long-hiring-timelines-negatively-impact-healthcare-finance-teams-301467993.html.
 Cloudmed, “To keep cash flowing in today’s tight labor market, revenue cycle leaders are using technology — 3 experts answer 3 Qs,” Becker’s Healthcare, 16 November 2021. Available: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/to-keep-cash-flowing-in-today-s-tight-labor-market-revenue-cycle-leaders-are-using-technology-3-experts-answer-3-qs.html.
 A. Paavola, “5 healthcare organizations outsourcing RCM,” Becker’s Healthcare, 3 February 2022. Available: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/5-healthcare-organizations-outsourcing-rcm.html.