Three Tweaks to Revenue Cycle Assembly Line that Saved $68.7M

Kemberly Blackledge, HealthLeaders Media

When different revenue cycle functions don't communicate well or don’t operate under the same leadership umbrella, organizations can experience high denial rates, unresolved coding queries, and much more.   

That was the case for University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Medicine, which integrated its hospital and physician practice revenue cycles, as well as its HIM and hospital patient access functions under a single governance structure and saved $68.7 million in the process.

"Without having everything under one leadership you had the different functional areas potentially going in different directions," says Sandra Peterson, executive director of revenue cycle management for UAB Medicine.

UAB Medicine entered into a seven-year partnership with Guidehouse to streamline the entire revenue cycle from top to bottom.

"The revenue cycle is really nothing more than a true, robust assembly line," says Kemberly Blackledge, vice president of revenue cycle for Guidehouse. "We're trying to maximize performance through improvements in our assembly line."

From when the partnership began in October 2016 through June 2018, UAB Medicine has realized $68.7 million in savings through a combination of cash acceleration, reduced costs, and net revenue increases, according to a new case study.

Streamlining the governance structure

At the heart of the changes is a new governance structure that includes an executive committee for high-level and strategic functions; a program committee and subcommittees for managing ongoing operations; and a revenue cycle committee that deals with tasks such as action plans and benchmarking.

Each of the committees includes representatives from throughout the system who meet regularly. For instance, the program committee meets three times a week for huddles in which they discuss hot topics and issues that need immediate attention.

"There's just a lot more access to bringing the right person in, where it might have been a bit more fragmented before," Peterson says.

The open and ongoing communication that the new governance structure provides, as well as other changes to different revenue cycle functions, have led to big improvements in a relatively short amount of time.

Here are three areas UAB improved because of the new governance structure that contributed to the $68.7 million savings tally.

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