The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work, and providers and healthcare revenue cycle solutions in the USA aren’t exempt. Many organizations moved their revenue cycle staff to work remotely permanently changing the way their workforce looked. Take, for example, Henry Ford Health System. The system sent home 96% of its revenue cycle staff. Only 70% had worked remotely before. But as the pandemic pushed forward, they began to consider long-term remote options [1].

Many revenue cycle leaders have seen the pandemic destroy myths about work-from-home scenarios like lost productivity and the inaccessibility of certain tasks. They’re actually finding the opposite to be true – many leaders are learning that their employees are more satisfied and more productive remotely, and that IT departments can step up to support even complex revenue cycle tasks.

The revenue cycle workforce has been disrupted, opening the door to a “hybrid” healthcare workforce – one where leadership should be considering healthcare revenue cycle management companies to support their hybrid workforce initiatives.

Defining the Hybrid Healthcare Workforce
The hybrid workforce is nothing new to healthcare, especially in the revenue cycle and for healthcare revenue cycle solutions in the USA. It’s simply a type of blended workforce that leverages both employees that work remotely and those working from a central location, usually an office. The upside of this arrangement is improved productivity and increased efficiency thanks to minimized commutes, fewer distractions, and the option to work when individuals most want to.

Use of the hybrid workforce is actually accelerating in healthcare, a trend revenue cycle leaders should make note of. This shift represents not only disruption, but the opportunity to rethink how business needs are met by examining the opportunities that decentralization brings with it. Healthcare revenue cycle management companies in particular are now a more viable option for organizations who understand that their needs can be met in new ways, and that they can tap billing, coding, and revenue cycle management talent around the world, and even outside their organization.

As you’re considering what a hybrid workforce looks like for your organization, keep in mind that there are multiple options in outsourcing that can fill gaps that emerge as you reshape your workforce strategy.

Why Staffing Revenue Cycle is Harder Right Now
Many organizations may discover that, even as they reshape their hybrid workforce, they have difficulties addressing their needs. That’s because today, staffing the revenue cycle is in many ways harder than ever.

Increased Competition
The rise of the remote revenue cycle workforce has been a benefit to many organizations, but it’s also made competition for qualified staff more difficult. Today, organizations are competing for billers and coders not only at a local level, but on the national stage too.

Revenue cycle leaders are finding that the market is tight. Luke Thiem, senior VP of Healthcare at recruitment agency, Addison Group, shared his challenges with Healthcare Finance News. “One of the trends I’m seeing right now, the market is very tight…There’s more competition, it’s a super competitive landscape both for clinical and nonclinical. Even since February I’ve seen the gap between job seekers and openings get wider and wider” [2].

At the same time, salaries are increasing, especially in rural areas, pressuring employers to offer their employees perks beyond money, like better work-life balance.

RCM Staff is Burned Out
While your revenue cycle staff might not face the same risks as frontline employees, they have still been affected by the pandemic. This contributes to staffing hurdles like high coder turnover and expensive, time-consuming certifications.

Your workers have likely been dealing with the stress of worrying about illness of both themselves and their loved ones, in addition to potential financial stresses. According to the American Psychological Association, the average American has been dealing with multiple negative emotions including anxiety (47%), sadness (44%) and anger (39%) [3]. Keep this in mind as you look at healthcare revenue cycle solutions in the USA.

Ways Working with a Revenue Cycle Management Company Can Be Part of Your Hybrid Plan
As you’re exploring hybrid workforce options, you might notice an opportunity to step forward on the outsourcing options you’ve been putting off – many organizations are using the pandemic to accelerate their revenue cycle outsourcing plans. If this is true for you, remember that there are multiple ways you can leverage healthcare revenue cycle solutions in the USA.

Use Them as a Transition
Before you make the commitment, consider outsourcing some of your functions as you wait for the world to stabilize. This could even help cut costs.

Improve the Agility of Your Staffing Plans
Even though the pandemic is leveling off, there are many changes coming down the road in the healthcare revenue cycle including shifts in government reimbursement policies, patients taking over a larger share of financial responsibility, and the ICD-11 code set. Outsourcing to a healthcare revenue cycle management company can help increase agility as you adapt a hybrid workforce for these issues.

Tap the Knowledge of Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management Companies
As you’re exploring the hybrid workforce, you’re likely going to find new opportunities in updating and adapting your staffing strategy. But you might also miss some. Having an external partner will allow you to access the experience and knowledge that comes from working with organizations around the country, filling gaps and ensuring you don’t miss a hidden opportunity.

But most importantly, it will give you the ability to navigate this pandemic transition and build stability into your revenue cycle even as you adapt to the new world. To learn more about what a new relationship with healthcare revenue cycle management companies can look like for you, contact us.

References
[1] A. W. Pecci, “Remote Revenue Cycle: Will it ever return to the office?,” HealthLeaders, 25 August 2020. Available: https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/revenue-cycle/remote-revenue-cycle-will-it-ever-return-office.
[2] S. Morse, “Revenue cycle directors deal with a competitive market for staff as elective care returns,” Healthcare Finance, 21 June 2021. Available: https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/revenue-cycle-directors-deal-competitive-market-staff-elective-care-returns.
[3] American Psychological Association, “APA: U.S. Adults Report Highest Stress Level Since Early Days of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” 2 February 2021. Available: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/02/adults-stress-pandemic.

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