Financial Alignment and ROI

Insights

Marlowe Dazley

Predicting Denials to Improve the Healthcare Revenue Cycle and Maximize Operating Margins

Healthcare financial leaders are constantly brainstorming ways to increase operating margins through better revenue cycle performance. These efforts often lead revenue cycle leaders to denied claims—when a payer doesn’t reimburse a health system for a service rendered. Although denials are a common reason for lost revenue, experts deem nearly 90 percent avoidable.
Effective denials management starts with prevention. Organizations can use revenue cycle performance data, combined with artificial intelligence, to predict areas within each claim’s lifecycle that are likely to result in a denial. With denial insight, health systems can optimize revenue cycle processes to prevent denials and increase operating margins.

Health Catalyst Editors

Healthcare Price Transparency: Understanding the Cost-Pricing Relationship

Healthcare consumers are demanding the same level of price transparency for medical care they have in other transactions—particularly as healthcare moves away from a fee-for-service model and patients are responsible for larger portions of their medical bills. Meanwhile, as of January 2021, federal regulation requires health systems to make their service charges publicly available. The healthcare industry, however, hasn’t historically succeeded with consumer-grade price transparency. Organizations must now figure out how to bridge the gap between their costs and patient charges. Doing so requires comprehensive understanding of all the costs behind a service and consumer-friendly explanation of how these expenses translate into prices.

Health Catalyst Editors

Three Cost-Saving Strategies to Reduce Healthcare Spending

Health systems continue to face fiscal challenges and burdens due to changing reimbursement rates, COVID-19, and managing the aftermath of care disruptions from the pandemic. Operating on thin margins with limited resources means health systems need to adopt alternative cost-saving measures to maximize limited resources.
Comprehensive, reliable data increases visibility into expenses across the care continuum so that leaders can leverage new methods to save money, generate income, and accelerate cashflow to keep patients healthy and hospital doors open. With access to recent data, health systems can focus on three cost-saving strategies:

Increase physician engagement.
Predict propensity to pay.
Implement evidence-based standards of care.

Health Catalyst Editors

Charge Capture Optimization: Target Five Hotspots to Boost the Bottom Line

As health systems continue to adapt to the pandemic healthcare landscape, certain challenges remain—including generating revenue on thin operating margins. Poor charge capture is a common reason behind lost revenue that healthcare leaders often fail to address. Because charge capture is the process of getting paid for services rendered at a hospital, poor charge capture processes mean the hospital does not get paid in full for a service, resulting in lost revenue that is typically unrecoverable.
Health systems can avoid financial leakage and increase profits by focusing on five problem areas within charge capture practice:

Emergency services.
Operating room services.
Pharmacy services.
Supply chain and devices.
CDM mapping.

Bobbi Brown, MBA

The 2021 Healthcare Financial Forecast: What to Expect, How to Prepare

As healthcare financial leaders plan for 2021, they can expect COVID-19 to shape their strategies. Pandemic response and recovery will continue to dominate the industry, inform new perspectives on existing issues (e.g., the shift to value-based care and health equity), and shape priorities. Meanwhile, the Biden administration will start to puts its stamp on U.S. healthcare, further making 2021 a pivotal year for the industry.
Healthcare finance teams can best navigate 2021 by monitoring and preparing to take action in five prominent areas:

Election impact.
Price transparency.
Financial forecasting.
Value-based care.
Health equity.

Bob Alexander
Mike Andrews
Robert DeMichiei

The 100-Percent Solution to Improving Healthcare’s Operating Margins

Healthcare organizations face unparalleled pressure to increase operating margins as they adapt to the revenue compression from COVID-19 and growing competition from insurers and digital disrupters. Yet, many health systems rely on outdated, revenue-centric cost accounting solutions that are ill equipped for strategic financial decision making. As a methodology for today’s complex healthcare environment, activity-based costing (ABC) can capture healthcare resource use at a granular level. With this service-level insight into clinical cost, ABC provides actionable intelligence to help organizations improve profitability and make strategic cost-reduction decisions. These comprehensive costing solutions give health systems a full understanding of cost across the care continuum—the only level of insight that will enable strategic cost transformation in the industry’s new normal.

Health Catalyst Editors

Healthcare Financial Transformation: Five Leading Strategies

Healthcare financial transformation—improving care delivery while lowering costs—has been an ongoing challenge for health systems in the era of value-based care and an even more prominent concern amid COVID-19. While better care and reduced expense to organizations and consumers might seem like opposing goals, by understanding the true cost of services and other drivers of expense, organizations can successfully manage costs while maintaining, and even improving, care delivery. To that end, health systems can use data- and analytics-driven tools and strategies to addresses financial challenges, including uncompensated care, prolonged accounts receivable days, discharged not final billed cases, inefficient resource use, and more.

Marlowe Dazley

Reduce Bad Debt: Four Tactics to Limit Exposure During COVID-19

Health systems have always faced bad debt—from charity care to insurance claim denials—and COVID-19 has exacerbated its impact on revenue. While hospitals and clinics are responsible for providing care to populations, they can still generate revenue from care delivery without compromising care accessibility or quality. An effective bad debt management approach provides the patient with every financial resource possible and allows the health systems to focus less on payment and more on delivering the best care.
With four tactics, health system leadership can identify bad debt and implement effective processes to minimize it without undue burden on patients:

Identify bad debt exposure early.
Educate patients about alternative payment options.
Leverage technology within the workflow.
Understand the true cost of care.

Marlowe Dazley

Healthcare Price Transparency: Three Opportunities for Transformation

Price transparency has been an ongoing challenge for health systems, and upcoming legislation requiring increased visibility around hospital pricing adds pressure. Meeting the new price transparency requirements means legal compliance, but providing procedure costs, different payment options, and the reasoning behind prices set patients up for an optimal experience, increasing their likelihood to return for future care.
With the right tools, such as robust pricing transparency technology and a defensible price strategy, health systems can use the new mandate to take advantage of three key opportunities:

Satisfy increasing patient interest in cost of care.
Earn patient trust—a short- and long-term imperative.
Create the optimal patient experience.

Health Catalyst Editors

Six Strategies to Navigate COVID-19 Financial Recovery for Health Systems

Research projects that 2020 healthcare industry losses due to COVID-19 will total $323 billion. As patient volumes fall and pandemic-related expenses rise, health systems need a strategy for both immediate and long-term financial recovery. An effective approach will rely on a deep, nuanced understanding of how the pandemic has altered and reshaped care delivery models. One of the COVID-19 era’s most impactful changes has been the shift from in-person office visits to virtual care (e.g., telehealth). Though patients and providers initially turned to remote delivery to free up facilities for COVID-19 care and reduce disease transmission, the benefits of virtual care (e.g., circumventing the time and resource drain of patients traveling to appointments) position telehealth as lasting model in the new healthcare landscape. As a result, healthcare financial leaders must fully understand the revenue and reimbursement implications of virtual care.

Health Catalyst Editors

How to Optimize the Healthcare Revenue Cycle with Improved Patient Access

Despite pandemic-driven limitations, health systems can still find ways to optimize revenue cycle and generate income. When health systems improve and prioritize patient access through a patient-centered access center, they can improve the revenue cycle performance through decreased referral leakage, better patient trust, and optimum communication across hospital departments.
Rather than relying on traditional revenue cycle improvement tactics, health systems should consider three ways a patient-centered access center can positively impact revenue cycle performance:

Advance access.
Optimize resources.
Engage stakeholders.

Marlowe Dazley
Todd Halpin

Healthcare Revenue Cycle: Five Keys to Financial Sustainability

With COVID-19 challenges continuing in the near-future, health systems must continue delivering quality care in the midst of the pandemic, without compromising financial well-being. Historical approaches to revenue cycle add value but fail to leverage data to drive financial sustainability in a time of crisis. To financially survive tumultuous economic times, health systems must leverage data to drive a more comprehensive revenue cycle strategy.
Five best practices generate the actionable data that allows health system leaders to understand financials at a nuanced level, promoting effective processes that lead to financial sustainability and optimum revenue cycle management:

Identify and measure the right metrics.
Define clear lines of accountability.
Create consistent workflows.
Define key performance indicators.
Understand the right metrics at the right place at the right time.

Steve Vance, MBA, FHFMA

An Effective Financial Response to COVID-19: Three Ways to Leverage Data

With COVID-19 presenting unprecedented challenges, health systems are struggling to financially survive. With little data about the novel coronavirus, traditional financial approaches that rely on historical information are not sufficient. However, organizations can get back on the road to financial recovery and well-being by practicing three key strategies centered around data:

Prioritize access to real-time data.
Understand data at a deeper level.
Realize margin and cost by service line.

Leveraging data allows financial healthcare leaders to effectively manage the COVID-19 challenges and prepare their health systems for future obstacles.

Bob Alexander

Activity-Based Costing in Healthcare During COVID-19: Meeting Four Critical Needs

As health systems increasingly transition to a value-based care model, the financial strains and uncertainty of COVID-19 have placed more urgency on cost management. More than ever, organizations need a costing solution that helps them understand the true value of their services. With the right next-generation activity-based costing (ABC) tool, health systems can access the detailed data they need to lower the cost of care, automate costing activities, and reduce administrative costs while preparing for the mounting intricacy of the post-pandemic setting.
Activity-based costing meets healthcare’s complex COVID-19-era costing needs by addressing four big challenges:

Data management.
Scalability.
Ongoing maintenance.
Adoption.

Health Catalyst Editors

A Healthcare Mergers Framework: How to Accelerate the Benefits

Health system mergers can promise significant savings for participating organizations. Research, however, indicates as much as a tenfold gap between expectation and reality, with systems looking for a savings of 15 percent but more likely to realize savings around 1.5 percent.
Driving the merger expectation-reality disparity is a complex process that, without diligent preparation and strategy, makes it difficult for organizations to fully leverage cost synergies. With the right framework, however, health systems can achieve the process management, data sharing, and governance structure to align leadership, clinicians, and all stakeholders around merger goals.

Health Catalyst Editors

Putting Patients Back at the Center of Healthcare: How CMS Measures Prioritize Patient-Centered Outcomes

Today’s healthcare encounters are too often marked by more clinician screen time than patient-clinician engagement. Increasing regulatory reporting burdens are diverting clinician attention from their true priority—the patient. To put patients back at the center of care, CMS introduced its Meaningful Measures framework in 2017. The initiative identifies the highest priorities for quality measurement and improvement, with the goal of aligning measures with CMS strategic goals, including the following:

Empowering patients and clinicians to make decisions about their healthcare.
Supporting innovative approaches to improve quality, safety, accessibility, and affordability.

Health Catalyst Editors

Three Key Strategies for Healthcare Financial Transformation

To succeed in today’s rapidly evolving business environment, healthcare organizations must have accurate financial data. Approximately 50 percent of CMS payments are now tied to a value component; hospital operating margins are at an all-time low; and consumer demands are rising with their costs. In order to meet these new challenges, health systems must shift their strategy or risk being left behind. This article details the operational, organizational, and financial strategies that drive financial transformation, as well as examples of how to obtain and utilize financial data, find waste reduction opportunities, and much more.

Health Catalyst Editors

Healthcare Quality Improvement: A Foundational Business Strategy

Waste is a $3 trillion problem in the U.S. Fortunately, quality improvement theory (per W. Edwards Deming) intrinsically links high-quality care with financial performance and waste reduction. According to Deming, better outcomes eliminate waste, thereby reducing costs.
To improve quality and process and ultimately financial performance, an industry must first determine where it falls short of its theoretic potential. Healthcare fails in five critical areas:

Massive variation in clinical practices.
High rates of inappropriate care.
Unacceptable rates of preventable care-associated patient injury and death.
A striking inability to “do what we know works.”
Huge amounts of waste.

Health Catalyst Editors

Activity-Based Costing: Healthcare’s Secret to Doing More with Less

Delivering high-quality, cost-efficient care to specific patient populations within a service line is nearly impossible without a sophisticated costing methodology. Activity-based costing (ABC) provides a nuanced, comprehensive view of cost throughout a patient’s journey and reveals the “true cost” of care—the real cost for each product and service based on its actual consumption—which traditional costing systems don’t provide.
With the true cost of care at their fingertips, healthcare leaders can identify at-risk populations earlier—such as pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus—and more quickly implement effective interventions (e.g., more scrupulous monitoring and earlier screenings). Health systems that leverage the actionable insight from ABC further benefit by implementing the same, or similar, process/clinical improvement measures across other service lines.

Sean Whitaker

Healthcare Data Management: Three Principles of Using Data to Its Full Potential

Author Douglas Laney is now tackling the topic of Infonomics: the practice of information economics. In his 2017 book, Infonomics: How to Monetize, Manage, and Measure Information as an asset for competitive advantage, Laney provides detailed rationale as well as a thoughtful framework for treating information as a modern-day organization’s most valuable asset.
This article walks through how healthcare organizations can leverage data to its full potential using this framework and the three principles of infonomics:

Measure – How much data does the organization have? What is it worth?
Manage – What data does the organization have? Where is it stored?
Monetize – How does the organization use data?

Steve Vance, MBA, FHFMA

How Healthcare Cost-Per-Case Improvements Deliver Big Bottom-Line Savings

As health systems face more pressure than ever to deliver cost savings, they’re turning their attention to cost-per-case improvement projects. These strategies can produce quick wins for improvement teams looking to gain momentum and buy-in. This article addresses the following topics:

How to identify areas of opportunity.
The importance of costing accuracy.
Four strategies for implementing cost-per-case improvement projects.
Example projects for new teams.
How to sustain results.

Bobbi Brown, MBA

Today’s Top Five Healthcare Payer Financial Opportunities

Healthcare payers today must develop new business models to address the industry’s mounting challenges around cost, access, and quality. The best emerging models are simple and aligned, accommodate all stakeholders’ needs, and center on the patients/members.
Five key payer opportunities provide a framework for new models that will support the healthcare transformation goals of lower cost, better quality, and increased access:

Understand the impact of the Affordable Care Act.
Be ready for potential shifts due to regulatory impacts.
Understand how social determinants of health impact members.
Focus on provider relations.
Prepare for future trends.

Health Catalyst Editors

How to Increase Cash Flow Using Data and Analytics

In today’s challenging environment, healthcare leaders must seek opportunities to boost revenue through improved financial performance and reimbursement. Some common strategies include reducing the number of outstanding bill hold accounts, reducing A/R days, and managing discharged not final billed (DNFB) cases.
This article tackles, the following topics:

Common reasons accounts remain unbilled.
Identifying opportunities for improvement.
Using data analytics and process improvement to achieve financial goals.
Creating lasting improvements.

Health Catalyst Editors

Five Action Items to Improve HCC Coding Accuracy and Risk Adjustment With Analytics

A hot topic in healthcare right now, especially in the medical coding world is the Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) risk adjustment model and how accurate coding affects healthcare organizations’ reimbursement.
With almost one third of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, it’s more important than ever for healthcare organizations to pay attention to this model and make sure physicians are coding diagnoses appropriately to ensure fair compensation. This article walks through basics of the risk adjustment model, why coding accuracy is so important, and five action items for interdisciplinary work groups to take. They include:

Having an accurate problem list.
Ensuring patients are seen in each calendar year.
Improving decision support and EMR optimization.
Widespread education and communication.
Tracking performance and identifying opportunities.

Health Catalyst Editors

Why Clinical Quality Should Drive Healthcare Business Strategy

Healthcare today is in the midst of a massive transformation. The opportunities for improvement are great if healthcare systems can do the following:

Reduce clinical variation.
Reduce rates of inappropriate care and care-associated patient injury and death.
Follow accepted best care practices.
Eliminate waste.

This article covers the different types of waste in healthcare systems, ways to reduce them, financial alignment around waste reduction opportunities, and the importance of reducing clinical variation. The core driver of healthcare systems must be improving clinical quality. Almost always, with proper clinical management, better care is cheaper care through waste management.