The impacts of the healthcare labor shortage on providers’ revenue cycles and overall financial well-being have been widely detailed. While there is no magic cure for these staffing shortages, one solution that has proven effective for many providers is outsourcing revenue cycle management (RCM) services.
In addition to providing an immediate answer to staffing needs across multiple fronts, outsourcing with the right RCM partner helps providers improve the efficiency of their existing workforce, reduce costs, advance toward interoperability and elevate the patient experience.
The healthcare industry was struggling with workforce woes before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent Great Resignation amplified the labor shortage problems. As the holes left by staffing vacancies have become too large to patch, patients are feeling the effects.
A recent poll reported by Axios found that approximately half of all Americans say they’ve been directly affected by the healthcare labor crisis. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they experienced difficulty scheduling medical appointments; about 25 percent said they had treatment services or surgical procedures delayed within the previous year.
Even those not personally affected by healthcare staffing shortages are concerned. A recent Becker’s Hospital Review article noted that 80 percent of Americans are worried about the healthcare labor shortage and that 78 percent of Americans singled out a lack of hospital beds as a particular concern.
From scheduling and prior authorization to charge capture and claims management, the patient-centric effects of the labor shortage extend through every facet of healthcare. This means staffing shortages also disrupt every aspect of the revenue cycle.
Among the healthcare worker categories hardest hit by the labor shortage are those that have first-hand contact with patients and manage key revenue-cycle processes.
Physicians, nurses, physicians’ assistants, home-health aides and medical coding professionals are just a few of the roles that have seen significant workforce declines and that are directly linked to patient-data input and claims processing. And the prognosis for a turnaround in the near future isn’t good.
A recent Fierce Healthcare article cited an industry analysis by the Mercer asset management firm that foresees the healthcare labor shortage continuing to rise as patient demand rebounds from the pandemic. According to the study, more than 6.5 million healthcare workers are expected to leave their positions within the next five years, with fewer than 2 million workers to replace them.
Numbers like that collectively provide a chilling wake-up call to healthcare leaders.
For the first time since 2004, hospital CEOs deemed “personnel shortages” the No. 1 issue confronting healthcare providers in the most recent poll by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). “Financial challenges,” which held the top spot for 18 years, fell to No. 2.
The distinction between personnel and finances is crucial to the ACHE survey. But it’s also essential to remember that staffing and revenue are intimately connected.
Efforts to broaden the pool of future healthcare workers are important, but providers who need help need it now. And their needs extend beyond simply augmenting staff.
The ongoing workforce predicament is peaking as providers strain to meet the demands of federal and state standards for structured patient data, electronic health records (EHRs) and interoperability. The situation calls for a comprehensive health information management (HIM) solution capable of linking every component of the patient journey and revenue cycle.
Outsourcing to a qualified HIM/RCM partner unites experienced staffing and cutting-edge technology to improve claims accuracy, optimize workflow, enhance risk management, grow revenue and strengthen patient care. Consider just a few of the workforce-related benefits of collaborating with an established, third-party resource:
Medical coding errors have skyrocketed amid the pandemic and labor shortage, as many coders have abandoned their positions and left providers to either shift coding duties to other, often-overworked staff or outsource on a short-term, as-needed basis.
An end-to-end RCM platform includes scalable coding to meet a provider’s fluctuating needs. Coding should be conducted by accomplished coders specializing in healthcare and certified by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), or both to ensure compliance with regulatory standards and payer practices.
A reputable coding team should further possess a deep understanding of federal and state healthcare regulations and knowledge of government, commercial and private payers. A dependable RCM partner will provide its coding team access to ongoing training and ensure the team meets accuracy and productivity benchmarks to reduce claim denials, accelerate reimbursements, and increase revenue.
Many providers don’t have the capital to purchase, maintain and continuously upgrade their information technology hardware and corresponding systems. Working with an RCM partner provides access to evolving data capture, artificial intelligence and automation technologies without the purchase price, licensing and update fees, or need for internal personnel to oversee operations.
A single-source solution integrates human resources and technology and verifies that all applicable channels can share information with and process data from one another. And this data is not limited to what’s contained in EHRs.
Modern healthcare HIM and RCM technology include diverse analytics tools, including workforce intelligence assessments and predictive analytics that can help forecast future staffing shortfalls. A recent MedCity News article highlighted the importance of workforce intelligence in combating the labor shortage and discussed how big data can be leveraged to enable care collaboration, reduce stress on remaining internal staff and maximize revenue streams.
The reality for many providers is that it’s somewhere between difficult and impossible to fulfill current personnel needs and sustain revenue cycle processes at financially healthy levels while building for future needs.
An expert outsourcing partner is forward-looking and responsive to industry changes. They should offer flexibility and react swiftly to a provider’s shifting needs with the client’s performance objectives in mind. They should supply analytics resources that give data the depth and context healthcare leaders need to make informed decisions.
When it comes to your revenue cycle, your outsourcing partner should be prepared to meet today’s challenges and help you overcome tomorrow’s obstacles with confidence.
GeBBS Healthcare Solutions is a leader in future-focused HIM and RCM services that deliver measurable results.
GeBBS has earned widespread acclaim for its AI-enabled technology solutions and a skilled human resources team that can be scaled and quickly deployed to meet a provider’s unique coding, billing and call-center needs. GeBBS is rated one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 10 Largest RCM Firms, Black Book Market Research’s Top 20 RCM Outsourcing Services and Inc. 5000’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the United States.
Visit gebbs.com to connect with us today to schedule a free demonstration and learn how we can help you address your current needs and grow as you move forward.