CFO details the positive impact of leveraging technology on the revenue cycle

Todd Mallon, Advocare’s chief financial officer, says the organization has a near-perfect net collection ratio.

Improving net collection rates and overall revenue cycle management processes is a top priority for revenue cycle leaders and adding new solutions and automation to streamline these operations has been a necessity for many organizations.

Todd Mallon, CFO of Invokeone of Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s largest independent, physician-governed multispecialty medical organizations, recently spoke with HealthLeaders about implementing new technologies to streamline the health system’s revenue cycle management operations.

With more than 650 providers and 3,000 employees in more than 150 independent care facilities facilitating approximately two million patient visits per year, Mallon said it was essential to simplify its revenue cycle.

Since implementing eClinicalWorks’ new technology to help with its revenue cycle management operations, Advocare now has a 99% net collection ratio. Because the industry standard ratio for net collections is 95%, Advocare is now performing well above average and is experiencing the positive effects of this change across all of its care centers.

“I spend far less time discussing processes and denials with our accounts receivable teams. We now have the space and flexibility to focus on expanding our operations and meeting the needs of more patients in our community,” he says mallon

HealthLeaders: What kind of problems did you see in your revenue cycle that made you realize you needed to implement a change? What was your main driver?

Todd Mallon: Our net collection ratio was the strongest indicator we needed to change our revenue cycle management solution. The net collection ratio measures how effectively our practice collects reimbursement for services from patients and payers. This metric has always been a primary identifier of financial success in healthcare organizations.

However, our net collection ratio was continuously falling under our previous practice management system. I felt that most of the time at each financial review meeting was spent discussing accounts receivable, denials and current processes to get to the heart of this issue. This meant our teams spent most of their time fixing day-to-day operations, which limited our ability to grow and deliver high-quality care to more patients. Therefore, our main driver for changing our revenue cycle management was to equip our finance and accounts receivable teams with the support and resources they needed to improve our net collection ratio.

HealthLeaders: What was the process of implementing the new technology and who was involved in the decision making in your organization?

mallon: All members of our leadership team supported the decision-making process. Between our CEO, who provides a medical perspective, the administration team and myself, who provide the financial and operational perspective, and our task force, comprised of multiple medical leaders across our specialties, we wanted all interest groups are represented in decision-making. process

Prior to implementation, we had several meetings with our supplier to define specific goals, metrics and outcomes to improve our net collection ratio. Once we aligned with the basic workflow and back-end operations, the next step was training. The system was new to everyone from our CEO to suppliers and management staff, so we needed a lot of support to train our people. Without proper training, it is unlikely that we would improve our net collection ratio.

Before the launch, a select group of our staff went to Boston for a complete overview and training of the new system. Three months before launch, our vendor team trained our vendors to feel confident with the system. We also offered pre-commissioning training courses to the rest of our staff. However, even after the training, the team was available for a quick phone call or chat to answer questions or resolve a potential problem with the system or workflow.

HealthLeaders: How long did it take for your organization to fully implement the technology and how did the implementation work since your practice spans so many clinics?

Mallon: Launching the system was a challenge and we could not have implemented the technology without vendor support. We implemented the new solution in 150 health centers in one day. We all went in from the start, and we had to start strong.

We had eClinicalWorks trainers at each care center for about a week to two weeks after launch to help with the transition process and train additional Advocare staff. During the implementation, we trained internal staff as point people for the solution so they could continue with the implementation and staff training.

HealthLeaders: Since implementation, what positive results have you noticed?

mallon: The most notable positive result is our increased net collection ratio. Several things contributed to this increase.

First, we now have a dedicated eClinicalWorks team that manages our daily collections and tracking to ensure we receive claims on time. To create an efficient workflow, the team helped us establish billing-ready rules to ensure care centers complete reports accurately. We may create alerts for missing information or incomplete claims. In addition to these workflow rules, the team notifies us of any issues, which gives us enough time to gather additional information from providers or communicate next steps with payers.

Second, our provider team also handles denial appeals from our call centers. Therefore, if a specific center’s claim is denied and needs to be resolved or modified, they will help that center file an appeal and track the progress of the claim within our system. Once we receive payments, they handle the cash collections and post them internally so we can track our income in real time.

HealthLeaders: What are some keys to success that you could share with another organization looking to do the same for their facilities?

mallon: The first key to success that I would share with other organizations looking to improve their revenue cycle is knowing where you currently stand. Find out your net collection ratio and how many days your accounts receivable are outstanding. Once you have a baseline, you can set goals and implement strategies to improve workflows and increase collections. And once you have those metrics, track them and update them regularly. We have regular meetings with our team to discuss our current metrics, compare them to our revenue and collection goals, and adjust our workflow and operations as needed. Everything has to be measurable to be successful, especially in the revenue cycle.

Second, train your team on the new technology. Especially for multi-site healthcare operations, it is imperative to have people at each care facility who can monitor the success of the solution and train new staff as needed. Each care center is now operating at full capacity. It is also easier to open new care centers because we have a unified system.

Finally, choose a health IT vendor that listens and learns from your organization. Open communication between a health IT vendor and a practice customer can benefit both parties. For example, based on our experience with their technology and conversations between our staff and the eClinicalWorks team, they created a mass lock button that would lock multiple charts at once to minimize clicks and improve efficiency of invoicing. The most valuable part of our partnerships is open communication. We are willing to learn from them, and they are willing to learn from us. Because of this open communication, our suppliers and staff benefit from more efficient workflows and our net collections increased. Through them, we are also exposed to new opportunities to improve healthcare IT solutions.

In the end, patients have a better experience and everyone wins.

Amanda Norris is the revenue cycle editor for HealthLeaders.

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