It’s old news: Revenue cycle complexity continues to increase, exacerbating existing challenges. And as we tackle those, new ones arise to take their place.
Ever-changing regulations are a given, but adopting value-based reimbursement (VBR) models currently poses a major challenge. New payment models complicating revenue cycle activity become more difficult with additional quality reporting and other requirements. Add in the operational realities of siloed workflows, data proliferation, and disparate systems, and it’s clear why efficient collaboration can seem nearly impossible. Intelligent middle revenue cycle operations that manage to these challenges are vital to achieving revenue integrity and financial stability.
Use the right solutions at the right time
Today’s environment requires sharpening the way you ensure revenue integrity. Providers need an easy, seamless way to manage middle revenue cycle operations, and there are several effective strategies to accomplish that. Of course, it’s important to recognize and make use of your EMR system’s capabilities. It’s also essential to leverage complementary technologies with specific core competencies that will improve revenue cycle performance. For example, a solution that continuously monitors records in real time enables timely auditing, coding adjustments and case completion to reduce billing turnaround and reimbursement delays.
Take a smart approach to enabling technology
Augmenting your core systems with complementary technologies or capabilities on a single, integrated platform makes it much easier to support internal collaboration between different departments or teams. An integrated platform also enables you to seamlessly deploy additional capabilities onto that platform, ensuring speed to value. Instead of using multiple disparate tools, a shared platform enables interdepartmental communication and helps minimize inefficiency. A smart technology platform that crosses departmental siloes and brings transparency across teams is critical. Platforms that leverage clinically aware artificial intelligence and other automation enable staff to proactively focus on the areas where their expertise has the most impact. In addition, when leveraging an integrated platform, one expert team’s work will not get cancelled out by another team’s contributions.
Regardless of which core system you use, integrating technology with targeted competencies and connectivity adds value to the EMR. It can provide a depth of specialized expertise that drives better documentation, coding and real time audit interaction — keys to a high-performing revenue cycle.
Prioritize comprehensive, correct documentation and coding
Unfortunately, it seems the battle against claim denials is here to stay. You can’t overlook the importance of front-end data validation to eliminate rework and inefficiency. However, the ability to ensure complete and accurate clinical documentation for every case will significantly impact revenue capture and reduce the inefficiency of denials and rework.
Broaden the scope of your CDI program with technology that uses clinical intelligence to drive concurrent documentation review for all payers. Getting it right up front contributes to better coding, accurate reimbursement, and appropriate quality measures, all of which are vital to success under VBR.
Increase collaboration with payers
As long as payers and providers continue working at odds, the costly onslaught of denials will persist. In a perfect world, both sides would join forces to find mutually beneficial solutions for claim errors, denials and payment delays. Imagine the savings in administrative inefficiency alone. However, we’re not in that world yet. Therefore, it’s important to make a proactive effort to understand the specifics of each payer’s contract and adjust your internal processes and technology rules accordingly. As operating margins get smaller, organizations have no choice but to increase efficiency and accuracy, and working together with payers can contribute significantly to that goal.
Consolidate, collaborate, communicate
Industry pressures to improve performance are unrelenting, especially around smart solutions, innovation, and increasing both efficiency and the bottom line. Organizations are expected to improve these areas while, at the same time, enabling patient-centric operations. One way to achieve this is to leverage innovative, integrated tools to augment core systems and promote partnership, communication and efficiency across multiple related disciplines.
Consider clinical documentation, coding and auditing. Numerous departments need pieces of that information for different reasons, including utilization review, medical necessity determinations, chart audits and quality monitoring, in addition to bill preparation. A single repository containing up-to-date data in a real-time view driven by supporting workflow, rules and alerts provides consistent and reliable information when and where it’s needed.
As patient care becomes more complex, so does the middle revenue cycle. Seek solutions that will simplify and manage the complexity in an administratively efficient way. Consider your prospective vendor’s core competencies when evaluating solutions and look for integration and intelligent automation that will add the most value to your organization.
Chris Martin is senior vice president of product management for Optum360, a health care services and technology company that uses advanced artificial intelligence to power solutions for improving revenue cycle operations.