As staffing shortages and financial challenges persist, healthcare providers are increasingly considering outsourcing revenue cycle management processes, according to a study from CWH Advisors and sponsored by Synchrony.
The 2022 PatientPay study was conducted in November and December 2022 and reflects responses from 38 executives at health systems, hospitals, and large single and multi-specialty medical groups.
“We designed this study to get providers’ point of view on their patient payment needs, to better understand how technology supports payments processes, and to learn more about how the procurement of those services occurs,” David Stievater, partner at CWH Advisors, said.
Ongoing workforce challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have led to abnormal patient collections protocol for the last two years. Almost two-thirds of respondents (63 percent) said they were experiencing staffing shortages in their revenue cycle departments.
Providers plan to outsource patient collections and other revenue cycle management processes in the future. Over 6 in 10 providers said they expect to increase their use of third-party patient financing over the next 24 months, with 31 percent of executives looking for additional financing options.
Specifically, providers are interested in improving the patient experience, as only 42 percent felt satisfied with their current patient payment solutions.
Respondents said they plan to focus on check-in and payment capabilities, known as the digital front end, meaning patients can expect a more retail-like payment experience when interacting with providers, according to CWH Advisors.
All respondents noted that patient payments are a high or moderate priority for their organization. The top concern among providers was finding a vendor with a proven ability to accelerate cash flow and reduce days outstanding.
Nearly 70 percent of providers cited excellent customer service as one of their top three priorities for outsourcing patient payment solutions.
The study also found that 59 percent of providers assessed patient financial literacy as poor, despite investments in educational collateral and additional front-line financial counselors.
Healthcare providers have also turned to outsourcing for other revenue cycle management operations.
A study from the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) found that 22 percent of surveyed revenue cycle leaders manage their inpatient revenue cycle management services themselves but outsource some of their outpatient services. The most common outpatient revenue cycle management services they outsourced were anesthesiology, gastroenterology, and urology.
According to a recent survey from Tebra, more medical billing companies have a positive outlook on revenue cycle outsourcing. Forty-three percent of companies cited outsourcing of medical bills as a significant opportunity to leverage technology to optimize services, boost revenue, and reduce repetitive tasks, compared to 27 percent in 2018.