HBI held its annual Spring Member Retreat in Boston, Massachusetts, last month (March 25–27)—bringing together approximately 70 revenue cycle professionals from 40+ healthcare organizations. As part of the HBI research team, these events have always been my favorite to not just help coordinate and host, but also to attend. I’m always struck by how kind and open to sharing ideas our members are in person. And I walk away from our sessions and networking events with a true pulse on the top priorities for healthcare leaders.
Speaking of which, what was the top priority at the event?
The event theme was breaking barriers, and the barrier that attendees seemed to want to break the most was between healthcare organizations and patients. It was slightly surprising that this concern took precedence given the industry buzz around artificial intelligence and automation. Yet, it makes sense when you consider recent trends regarding out-of-pocket costs, price transparency, and patient consumerism.
An audience poll from the event illustrates this takeaway. We polled attendees to which extent they thought the new payer, the patient, would impact their overall organization in 2019. The results?
- 69% of attendees thought it “definitely would” impact their organizations in 2019
- Another 24% said it “likely would” make an impact
- Only 7% said it “likely would not” make an impact
- Zero attendees said that patients “definitely would not” make an impact
Luckily, building connections with patients was on the agenda.
The most popular session of the event, for instance, tackled the challenge of how to educate patients on free-standing imaging centers. Budget-savvy patients may be tempted by the often-lower price points offered by these centers. However, Tia Donley from Nemours Children’s Health System emphasized the importance of explaining when the higher degree of imaging quality offered by providers may be necessary to a patient’s treatment (like for certain pediatric cases). She also emphasized holding these conversations with empathy and providing estimates/payment plan options to families who may find this cost difficult.
Both Ramzey Ibrahim’s and Emily Gribben/Arrianne Fiets’ sessions started dialogues on improving patients’ access to care. Ibrahim led attendees through a multidisciplinary initiative that allowed Texas Children’s Hospital to decrease appointment wait times, enhance scheduling convenience, and more. As a result, from FY 2017 to FY 2018:
- The percentage of subspecialties able to offer new appointments within two weeks increased from 66% to 88%
- MyChart activation grew from 51% to 60% of patients
- Patients rating the “ease of scheduling” as “very good” on a Press Ganey survey increased from 57% to 72%
- The number of referral processes across the system decreased from 60 to one
Gribben and Fiets’ session, on the other hand, explored how OhioHealth’s initiative to train its staff on completing the sexual orientation and gender identity form with patients to improve the health of gender and sexual minorities. According to an internal OhioHealth survey, this training helped 70% of its staff members feel comfortable asking the SOGI questions and 88% felt like they had adequate resources to answer patient questions or concerns—making the overall organization a safe space for all patients.
Now, patients were not the only barrier discussed during the Retreat. Another popular topic was how to break silos between operational areas, especially revenue cycle and IT. A panel on mergers and acquisitions discussed standardization challenges when it comes to integrating the many systems at play within healthcare organizations today. All three of the ensuing breakout sessions revealed both frustrations and strategies in this area among attendees. This is another topic that HBI will be digging into as 2019 progresses.
HBI’s Member Retreat brings together approximately 100 hospital revenue cycle leaders for 1.5 days of provider-led sessions and two networking events.
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