Category Archives: Interim Management Services

Nearterm, an industry leader in healthcare interim management services, looks at Revenue Cycle, Finance, Accounts Receivable, Business Office, HIM & More.

“I promoted the best AR Specialist in our organization to a management position – oops!”

Here is a story from one of our clients that you may find interesting;

Things were in good shape in our revenue cycle management process. Metrics and the Dashboard indicated that we were current in billing, follow-up, and cash application. Denials were under control. Days were low. Patient complaints were handled promptly. You get the picture.

I attributed a lot of this sustained success to one of our team members (let’s call her “Julie”) who had been with us a long time and had worked effectively in patient access, billing and denial management. Julie was very knowledgeable about our system, got along well with coworkers and had good social skills. A model employee!

Passing the Patient Accounts Torch

When our Patient Accounts Manager retired, we were tasked to fill the vacancy. The Patient Accounts Manager had done a great job so this was not a “turnaround.” He was a natural leader, knew the technical side of the business and understood the multidisciplinary processes and relationships that are so important in RCM.

We thought Julie deserved a shot at this position and that she could apply her technical knowledge in a management capacity. Our management team was unanimous that we should offer her the opportunity, so we did not initiate a search nor did we engage an interim manager. It was understood that the management team would all mentor her in the transition. We offered Julie the position and she was flattered and delighted to accept so we introduced the change.

After a short few months, performance began to slip. Morale declined. Julie was stressed and unhappy. Team members and colleagues came to grips that they had made a mistake promoting Julie to a management position.

The result was that they

  1. lost Julie, one of their best technicians
  2. burdened the organization with poor management
  3. are now in the costly process of recovering.

5 Lessons for Filling Vacancies

Here are six learnings that can be applied when vacancies occur:

  • Consider the entire universe of talent that is available to fill the vacancy instead of limiting your search to internal candidates. It is not about who is deserving or qualified – it’s about who is best.
  • Give yourself time to make informed decisions that will serve you well in the long term. It is often advisable to bring in interim management services to get you through the vacancy transition until permanent leadership can be identified and hired or promoted.
  • Recognize that being a great technician is an entirely different skillset than being a great manager but no less important. Other countries have embraced this and redefined culture so that technicians can advance their “status” and compensation on a scale equal to managers.
  • Succession planning is not just for the C-Suite. Every position in the organization is important or you probably would not have it there in the first place. Design a plan that addresses what you would do in the event of vacancy for each position. It is not necessary to name a successor, but it is important to have a plan. For example, would you promote from within, reorganize, engage interim help, rely on internal recruiting or go outside for talent acquisition? The answer may vary from one position to the next.
  • If you have your eye on a candidate for internal promotion, assess training and development needs well ahead of offering the promotion. Let the person know what development goals they would have to accomplish in order to advance and invest in them.
  • If you are in a rural community or a location where the talent pool is limited, you have a “make or buy” decision when filling a vacancy. If you decide to “make”, it is imperative that training resources are prepared and that you have the time to allow an inexperienced person to get up to speed. You must also be prepared to quickly assess the capability of the new hire to absorb the training and be effective in your organization. Hiring inexperienced staff is expensive and can be a distraction to the rest of the team. However if you decide to “buy”, you should expect highly trained candidates with strong experience. The training curve is minimized and you have the opportunity to vet a range of talent. Often, you can introduce interim management resources that strengthen your human capital “gene pool” and elevate overall performance that is sustainable.

Perhaps these ideas will help you avoid losing your best technician while making an ill-advised promotion.

Posted By: nearterm-admin

The Rise of the Agile Workforce

The Rise of the Agile Workforce

Long gone are the days when people work the same job until retirement. Today, the workforce has transformed, and more and more people are choosing to be “agile” workers — that is, taking on jobs on a project-by-project basis. This rise in the agile workforce means that people have the opportunity to work for a multitude of employers and on a multitude of endeavors in a multitude of settings. The rise of the agile workforce can be attributed to many factors, including the benefits this work structure offers workers — and, also, if you work in the healthcare industry, you may just benefit from burgeoning agile workforce, too.

The Basics of Agile Working

The most basic tenet of agile working is that workers are not traditional full-time employees. Instead, agile workers can be freelancers who work remotely, they can be contracted workers who only work for the duration of a project, or they can be temporary workers who are only staffed for a certain amount of time.

The Agile Workforce by the Numbers

While some companies continue to maintain traditional employees, studies are showing that globally, employers are shifting towards hiring agile workers. A 2016 report by the Freelancer’s Union showed that 35 percent of the total U.S. workforce is made up of freelancers. Further, a recent study by HR consultancy Randstad showed that nearly 11 percent of the global workforce is made up of agile workers. Additionally, 39 percent of workers who are currently full-time employees say that they plan to leave their permanent position and join the agile workforce in the near future. Based on the study, Randstad predicts that 50 percent of the workforce could be agile by 2019.

Reasons Behind the Rise

There are several significant factors that have led to the rise of the agile workforce. First, millennials, who have grown up on the internet and with access to a wide variety of digital communication tools don’t want limitations on their career. Instead, they are drawn to work opportunities that expose them to a wide variety of people, places and fields. The Randstad study also showed that 56 percent of workers felt that they were able to earn better money by working for multiple employers.

How Employers (in General) Can Benefit from the Agile Workforce

It’s clear that workers can benefit from the agile workforce trend — but if you’re an employer, what’s in it for you? First, an agile workforce results in happier employees- and thus, more productive ones. Studies show that 80 percent of employees consider telework a perk from a company, and that 37 percent would take a 10 percent pay cut if they could work from home. Ultimately, hiring an agile workforce can save you money: it reduces brick and mortar costs of having to house and equip full-time employees, and it ensures you only staff people when you need them — and not when the workload is low (or slow).

How Healthcare Organizations Can Benefit from the Agile Workforce

Like other employers, healthcare organizations can greatly benefit from hiring workers on an as-needed basis. The staffing needs of healthcare organizations change regularly, based on a wide variety of factors, including changes in the economy, changes in policy, work volume and more. By not hiring full-time healthcare employees, but by simply finding qualified contract workers when needed, healthcare organizations can take advantage of workers who are excited to work for them — and ensure that they’re not spending excess money to pay people they don’t need (and who aren’t necessarily happy to be there).

If you run a healthcare company and you want to move to an agile workforce, you can rely on Nearterm’s 360˚ RCM Managed Services. We can help you meet your staffing needs by providing you with qualified workers who can fulfill your positions, as-needed.

Learn More about our Medical Coding Services

Learn about our RCM Project Staffing Capabilities

Posted By: nearterm-admin

Successful Hospitals Adopt an Agile Workforce Staffing Strategy

Nearterm embraces the agile workforce

Healthcare occupations are experiencing strong employment growth, and the need for qualified healthcare workers is expected to grow faster than any other field over the next ten years. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of positions related to healthcare will increase by 19 percent, adding approximately 2.3 million new jobs to the U.S. economy.

Hospitals understand that keeping these positions filled with skilled workers is going to be a challenge, and the most successful are moving towards a new staffing strategy. Instead of competing for full-time workers with higher-than-average compensation and benefits — a strategy that rapidly leads to financial crisis — innovative hospitals are adopting an agile workforce staffing strategy. This strategy shifts the focus to short-term contractors and other types of alternative workers to fill positions on an as-needed basis.

Balancing Workers’ Interests With Business Needs

Hiring permanent full-time employees has always been complicated for hospitals. Changing payor arrangements, fluctuations in the volume of work, legislative change, the economy, service derivation, changes in ownership, financial considerations and changes in the labor market contribute to the complexity of creating balance between workers’ interests and business needs. Keeping appropriate staffing levels is critical to employee satisfaction and patient care, but excessive payroll drains resources from all areas of the business.

Many hospitals are migrating to a more flexible staffing model, using outsourcing options, independent contractors and crowdsourcing techniques to supplement core staff with additional workers on an as-needed basis. This technique, often referred to as an agile workforce strategy, ensures that the right amount of labor is available to care for patients, regardless of changes in the business landscape.

The Agile Workforce: Benefits for Workers

Today’s healthcare workers aren’t pushing back when it comes to interim work and consulting. In fact, they have embraced the opportunities available through flexible work. Instead of seeking full-time, permanent positions, they are making a career out of short-term and as-needed employment. They have discovered that a professional decision to work in a variety of settings brings continuous learning and development. They build valuable skills, increasing their overall employability long-term. For example, a consultant who has successfully supported many organizations brings greater value to the next and is therefore more employable.

In an employment market where the permanency of any regular position is highly dependent on business needs and can change at any time, the experience and skills from multiple short-term jobs brings a more reliable form of job security. Some hospital administrators wonder about whether such a worker can be truly loyal to the organization, but this concern is unnecessary. An interim worker’s next job relies on excellence in the current position, motivating short-term contractors to work harder than their peers in traditional permanent positions.

The workforce has changed dramatically as Millennials become the biggest generation in today’s labor pool. Their presence creates new challenges, in addition to new opportunities for teams to reach unprecedented goals. Changing priorities means an increased focus on work/life blend and employee engagement and a decreased emphasis on tenure. With technology advancing at lightning speed, the work is changing as well. Process innovation, along with new models and management practices, have hospitals continuously rethinking organization structure, workflow and the use of human capital. When all of these factors combine, an agile workforce is the only logical solution for hospitals to succeed and grow.

Nearterm recognizes the agile workforce and our 360˚ RCM Managed Services help healthcare organizations meet their staffing needs, from patient access to accounts receivable to consultants and interim management. Contact Nearterm to learn how we can help your organization eliminate a backlog or backfill on a special project.

Learn More about our Medical Coding Services

Learn about our RCM Project Staffing Capabilities

Posted By: nearterm-admin

Five CFO RCM & Cash Flow Challenges & Solutions 2016

CFO RCM Cash Flow Challenges 2016

How to raise patient satisfaction, reduce overhead operating costs and integrating patient-centered technology are just some of the challenges impacting cash flow and revenue cycle management in 2016. Of the five mentioned here, Patient Satisfaction accounts for 3 of the challenges.

Three Patient Satisfaction Challenges

The hospital CFO has a new driver in the cash flow driver’s seat: the consumer patient.  How did that happen?

  • Higher patient deductibles leading to higher patient payments
  • Decreasing reimbursements
  • Erosion to the payor mix

All that has led to the growing impact of patient payments on cash flow and profits.

Like any modern consumer, the patient as consumer expects cutting-edge quality care, more information on all aspects of care and billing, more interaction and access. These are challenges the CFO must address for his hospital’s success.

Challenge 1: Provide Robust Patient Financial Services

 “Many studies have demonstrated that a patient’s payment experience colors their overall feelings about a hospital stay. They have discovered that a positive billing and payment experience can impact patient satisfaction and loyalty as well as reduce costs and raise revenue.”

A positive billing experience is one that has no expensive surprises at the end. To do this billing and AR must be engaged at the front end of the patient experience (Patient Access stage) with Patient Financial Services (PFS) professionals. Together they work to educate the patient on billing-payment choices and what lies on the path ahead, describing what options are available at each step of the way.

At the end of the journey, patients expect a simple, easy-to-read medical bill that they can pay as easily as they do other bills.

How Nearterm Can Help:

  • RCM Consulting Services: Patient access, PFS and billing integration – analysis, strategy, planning and implementation assistance.
  • Interim Management Services: To fill the gap during Patient Access, PFS and billing implementation transition and process optimization.

Challenge 2: Eliminate Coding Errors before They End Up on the Patient Bill

Needless to say, coding errors along the clinical path can negatively impact the billing experience for patient.

Also, coding backlogs, system upgrades or a sudden loss of leadership are all breeding grounds for coding errors.

How Nearterm Can Help:

  • RCM Consulting Services:
    • Coding and billing process analysis, strategy, planning and implementation assistance.
  • Interim Management Services: 
    • Coding Manager
    • HIM Director
  • Interim Medical Coding Services
    • Interim HIM/Medical Coding Specialists to help with backlogs and system upgrade: I inpatient/Outpatient, Emergency
    • Production Coding Staffing to help with major backlogs and system upgrades
    • Clinical Specialty Coding
    • Medical Coding Auditors to determine the root causes of errors and fix them upstream.

 Challenge 3: Quality Care & Financial Experience Synchronized

 Technology can be one of the best tools to improve revenue cycle performance and improve the overall patient experience, both clinically and financially.

Patient-Centered Technology can integrate your EMR with the needs of the consumer patient clinical and financial experience, creating one seamless billing, payment and care experience across all patient physician and hospital visits. This means going beyond health information management and building stronger patient relationships

Such technologies provide access to complete patient information, current conditions, care management, medications, appointment history and communications preferences.

A connected environment can be created to provide all involved (admin, patients, specialists, etc.) with access to the actionable information they need at any time and on any device, at home, in hospital, and on the go. This can improve workflow and clinical outcomes.

Cost saving can come from reducing:

  • Readmissions
  • Unnecessary and duplication of tests and other services
  • High-cost prescribing behaviors

And technology can improve patient loyalty and offer a competitive advantage.

How Nearterm Can Help:

  • RCM Consulting Services: Technology transition analysis, strategy, planning and implementation support assistance.
  • Interim Management ServicesInterim HIM Managers and Leaders to fill in while hospital management staff focuses on implementation of the system upgrade.

The Challenge That Never Goes Away

 Challenge 4: Reduce Overhead Costs

Keeping non-medical spending down is always a big challenge for hospitals. However, there are ways such as:

  • Paying close attention to administrative costs, such a sales and marketing
  • Eliminating redundancy of managers doing the same function and consolidating management layers
  • Outsourcing IT, finance, human resources, labs and pharmacies

 How Nearterm Can Help:

  • Financial Management Consulting Services: Determine ways to reduce costs without compromising efficiency or patient satisfaction.  Analysis, strategy, planning and implementation assistance.

 KPIs – Friends the CFO Likes to Follow

 Challenge 5: Identifying KPIs that Can Reduce Costs & Increase Efficiency

Timely access to different types of data from in-house financial systems and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help managers to monitor efficiency and performance. KPIs are especially useful in monitoring work hours, overtime, patient census and employees per occupied bed, among other metrics.

How Nearterm Can Help:

  • Financial Management Consulting Services:
    • Assistance in developing your KPIs and sources of data.
    • Help in determining  which KPIs impact revenue the most and and serve as good indicators of good or poor performance.
    • Assistance with  the transition care process and spotting readmission issues.

Whether you need to improve financial performance in general or if you need help dealing with change or transition, Nearterm can rapidly deploy resources to improve your revenue cycle management and financial processes.

All services are offered separately or as part of a 360° RCM solution.

Ask the RCM Experts

Posted By: nearterm-admin
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