The annual HFMA conference didn’t reveal startling new insights about the state of the healthcare industry. Rather, it reaffirmed that providers are still struggling with revenue cycle concerns voiced in 2017. Which leads us to wonder… why, despite extensive vendor product development, have these problems remained? Before we examine the why, let’s take a look at the what.
The conference highlighted provider pain points in three main categories: cash flow, changing patient expectations and insurer woes.
Dwindling cash flow: Out-of-pocket patient payments now encompass greater share of hospital revenue. As reimbursement shrinks and patient underpayment surges, hospitals are experiencing compressed margins. Coupled with this unsettling trend, are increasingly complex healthcare plans and a mounting patient demand for cost estimates. It comes as no surprise that hospitals are struggling to clearly communicate fiscal responsibility to patients prior to care. When hospitals aren’t sure how much they are owed and from whom, the cash flow issue is compounded.
Evolving patient expectations: As patient behavior evolves toward consumerism, so too hospitals are changing course to behave more like businesses. To better understand the shifting consumer perspective, many systems are instituting surveys, monitoring patient engagement and researching the patient lifecycle – sometimes going as far as to create a whole new team that caters to the patient experience.
Insurer woes: Hospitals are set up to collect money from insurers, however that collection method is waning. Furthermore, insurers often change reimbursement and coverage rules without notifying providers, leaving hospitals in a sticky situation when it comes time to discuss costs and collect reimbursement from patients.
In this new healthcare world with less cash, confusing insurance policies and elevated patient expectations, it is becoming problematic for large hospital systems to tackle revenue cycle. Management is tasked with making a significant decision: Should hospitals innovate or outsource payment solutions? Even if systems elect to outsource to a third party, they must choose from an array of vendor payment platforms, marketing strategies and financial lending options. The growing number of industry partner solutions can overwhelm and drive healthcare systems to avoid moving forward altogether.
The 2018 HFMA key takeaway: while hospitals are facing uncharted territory and digesting the transition, more and more partners are entering the space and collaborating to offer holistic, dynamic solutions. The figurative revenue cycle solution ball appears to have landed in industry partners’ court. It will be interesting to see how some partners tackle the issues plaguing the industry while minimizing and simplifying provider workflow. We predict there will be exciting solution stories to share at HFMA 2019.
HCS is on a mission to deliver provider solutions for more efficient and effective patient financing. This mission impassions us to invent smart, simple solutions that make healthcare more affordable. Ownership of the end-to-end lending process gives us the freedom to listen to our customers and to adapt to their needs. From practices delivering more care to patients successfully managing their health, we take pride in empowering and equipping our customers to take charge of both their physical and financial well-being. Learn more at hcsloans.com.