According to Jeff Hurst, the senior vice president of finance at Florida Hospital, the revenue cycle trend hospitals should be moving towards is the integration of financial and clinical operations, in an effort to create a more consumer-friendly revenue cycle.
“Historically, the healthcare industry has done a good job advocating for patients in a clinical setting, and helping the patient understand what to expect during treatment. But the financial side of the healthcare industry has not kept pace with the clinical side,” Hurst, who directs all financial and clinical revenue cycle functions at Florida Hospital, told Healthcare Finance
. “Our job from a revenue cycle standpoint is to help the patient navigate the financial intricacies of the healthcare system.”
For Hurst, this means simplifying the healthcare finance system for the patients through proactive “education and outreach” in order to increase patient understanding. Florida Hospital, a 2,247-bed, multi-site acute-care organization, has launched several initiatives in recent years to achieve this simplification. One major innovation includes increasing transparency surrounding out-of-pocket costs through price-estimate phone lines and online applications which allow patients to get estimates on their out-of-pocket responsibility based on their unique circumstances.
“Revenue cycle must learn to focus on continuous improvement of the patient experience,” said Hurst. “The patient experience has to extend beyond the clinical to the finance side of the business.”
As Nearterm sees it, this strategy is underway in most health systems. However, the strategy still has a long way to go in order for most to operationalize it. This is mostly due to the prioritization of spending in light of the cost of re-design and implementation.