What do marriages, friendships and even revenue cycle partnerships all have in common? They are powered by communication, shared goals, commitment and adaptability – things that are key to any successful and long-term relationship.
Becker’s Healthcare sat down with Nola Wyatt, recently retired vice president of revenue cycle at Ascension Healthcare for a podcast to ask about her thoughts on how to find and sustain a successful revenue cycle management partnership. Her answers did not focus on issues one might expect such as technology, workflows or analytics. Instead, she focused on four basic – but often more elusive goals – communication, shared goals, commitment and adaptability.
Wyatt first learned the importance of the power of communication shortly after graduating college, when she joined a small community hospital in the mountains of east Tennessee. As part of her cross training, she worked as an ambulance dispatch for the county-based emergency management system.
“Learning to relate critical messages and directions to emergency personnel from anxious family members who were talking to me, really taught me to remain calm and focus on communicating clearly,” said Wyatt. She says the experiences and lessons learned during that early part of her career, helped prepare her for her future at Ascension.
According to Wyatt, communication is at the heart of every good revenue cycle relationship. She says the time Ascension and R1 spent collaborating to develop a revenue cycle change management program where they defined the goals, vision and partnership expectations, was critical to their revenue cycle partnership success.
Regarding communication, Wyatt says, “If you are looking to start a partnership, I cannot overemphasize the importance of stepping into that area deeply and sitting across the table from each other.”
Determine Your Goals
Wyatt says a truly healthy, productive and sustainable revenue cycle partnership centers on goal alignment between the health system and the revenue cycle management organization. “Those goals must be based on the health system's mission, vision and performance goals,” says Wyatt.
She also suggests maintaining structured forums to keep all revenue cycle team members and leaders engaged and informed of the status of key performance indicators and focused on the pre-determined goals. Wyatt says it is critical to document the agreed upon standard operating model as a way to keep everyone aligned around the common goals.
Remain Committed to Employees
Wyatt stresses that health systems should continue to remain committed to the revenue cycle team members even after forming a partnership with a revenue cycle management organization. She says it is deeply important for these individuals to feel like they are a part of the health system and fully integrated into the organization to the point where they are viewed as associates and not external partners.
“When you cultivate the partnership to the point where everyone ignores the company on your paycheck and just commits to excellent service and outcomes, that's when you really have reached the ultimate goal of revenue cycle management and collaboration across two distinct organizations,” said Wyatt.
She believes this level of commitment – both to the associates and the shared goal of patient excellence – highlights the ultimate goal of caring for patients in the community they serve.
Be Adaptable and Flexible
For health systems that span different regions – either across multiple states or even different regions within a state – Wyatt says not all can have the same performance due to environmental pressures, county programs or state regulations. She says the diversity that occurs in each of the markets influences how a health system operates and influences what the revenue cycle team members need to bring to the table.
Wyatt urges these types of health systems to look for a revenue cycle partner that can be flexible and adapt their standard management model over diverse markets. “Having a partner who’s flexible and able to nuance the standard model is critical,” said Wyatt.
Want more information on choosing a revenue cycle partner? Download the research brief, Vetting the Right Revenue Cycle Partner, published by The Health Management Academy.
Listen to the full Becker's Healthcare podcast featuring Nola Wyatt.
Author Bio: Content written on behalf of R1 RCM.
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