Revenue Cycle Management, EHR Integration Remain Pain Points for Providers

Tim Kinney, Healthcare IT News

Revenue cycle management and the integration of electronic health records (EHRs) continue to be pain points for healthcare providers, according to a survey of 108 hospital and health system chief financial officers and revenue cycle executives.

Why It Matters

The survey, conducted by Guidehouse and the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), also revealed more than half of organizations are having trouble keeping up with EHR upgrades or are currently underusing available EHR functions.

Providers are moving towards collaborations with external entities, including outsourcing and vendor partnerships, in an effort to improve revenue cycle performance, and the vast majority (85%) said they believe the trend towards consumer self-payment will continue to impact their organizations – up from 81% last year.

The survey also indicated provider efforts to better integrate revenue cycle operations with clinical operations aren't yet paying off, with just 3% of respondents feel their organizations have been "entirely successful" managing the integration.

Consumer-facing IT solutions like online portals for price estimates and payment, as well as financial counseling and payment plans, are among the other efforts providers have been making to improve RCM.

Survey results suggested providers will continue to focus on IT capabilities in order to drive RCM benefits, particularly in the areas of revenue integrity – the top area of focus for the third straight year – as well as robotic process automation.

When it comes to EHRs and their impact on RCM, the HFMA survey revealed integrating digital health records with billing processes has been a major challenge, with a little under two-thirds (62%) indicating EHR adoption struggles have been "equal to or outweighed" benefits specific to the provider's RCM.

Management seems intent on using an expanded IT budget to solve the issues, however, with nearly seven in 10 (69%) predicting their IT budgets would rise next year.

The Larger Trend

Despite the growing interest in RPA, adoption and investment in the technology is still in its early growth stage in the healthcare industry, with just half of hospital leaders familiar with the specifics, according to an earlier Olive/Sage Growth Partners survey released in August.

The survey results also indicated that there is a lack of general knowledge as to where to procure the solutions or what vendors offer them, with more than half of survey respondents unable to name an RPA vendor or solution.

On the Record

"It was anticipated that EHRs would be the main driver of broad performance improvement, but that has not occurred in many cases," said Timothy Kinney, managing director at Guidehouse, said in a statement. "Instead, providers are now taking other steps, including looking outside their organizations to collaborate with external entities and leveraging advanced technology solutions, and they're seeing successes."

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