Navigant/HFMA survey also shows hospital execs expect more moderate IT investments for RCM improvement
Providers continue to focus on technology to drive revenue cycle improvements but remain challenged with optimizing electronic health record (EHR) functionality and addressing consumer self-pay, a Navigant (NYSE: NCI) analysis based on a survey conducted by Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) suggests.
Revenue cycle IT budgets, EHR trends
According to the survey of 107 hospital and health system chief financial officers and revenue cycle executives, 68% said their revenue cycle technology budgets will increase over the next year, down from 74% last year.
Results also show that, compared to last year:
This slowing of IT spending does not mean providers are satisfied with their current EHR functionality.
Fifty-six percent of executives said their organizations can’t keep up with EHR upgrades or underuse available EHR functions, up from 51% last year.
Moreover, 56% of executives suggested EHR adoption challenges have been equal to or outweighed benefits specific to their organization’s revenue cycle performance. Both hospital-based executives and those from smaller hospitals cited more challenges than benefits, compared to health system and larger hospital executives. This is likely due to greater capacity and scale in health system and larger hospital IT departments.
“Hospitals and health systems have invested a significant amount of time and money into their EHRs, but the technology’s complexity is preventing them from realizing an immediate return on their investments,” said Timothy Kinney, managing director at Navigant. “When optimized correctly, a good portion of the ROI can come from EHR-related revenue cycle process improvements.”
Consumer self-pay trends
While providers appear to be better prepared to address consumer self-pay, the area continues to be an issue.
Eighty-one percent of executives believe the increase in consumer responsibility for costs will continue to affect their organizations, down from 92% last year. Among them, 22% think that impact will be significant, compared to 40% last year. Executives from health systems and larger hospitals believe their organizations will be more heavily impacted by consumer self-pay.
“The impact of consumer self-pay on providers will only increase with the popularity of high-deductible health plans and negative changes to the economy,” said Navigant Managing Director James McHugh. “Providers must take advantage of opportunities to more holistically educate patients on out-of-pocket costs, predict their propensity to pay as early as possible, and secure alternative payers or financing when needed.”
Revenue cycle IT trends
When asked which revenue cycle capability their organization is most focused on for improvement over the next year, most executives (76%) once again selected technology-related capabilities. Revenue integrity continues to be the top area of focus among them, cited by 24% of executives who noted such revenue integrity program benefits as reduced compliance risks, and increased revenue capture and net collection. Survey results also show that, compared to last year, EHR optimization as an improvement priority rose from 15% to 21%, while physician documentation fell from 18% to 12%.
View full survey results at www.navigant.com/RCMInsights.
Navigant’s Healthcare segment is comprised of consultants, former provider administrators, clinicians, and other experts with decades of strategy, operational/clinical consulting, managed services, revenue cycle management, and outsourcing experience. Professionals collaborate with hospitals and health systems, physician enterprises, payers, government, and life sciences entities, providing strategic, performance improvement, and business process management solutions that help them meet quality and financial goals.
Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: NCI) is a specialized, global professional services firm that helps clients take control of their future. Navigant’s professionals apply deep industry knowledge, substantive technical expertise, and an enterprising approach to help clients build, manage, and/or protect their business interests. With a focus on markets and clients facing transformational change and significant regulatory or legal pressures, the firm primarily serves clients in the healthcare, energy, and financial services industries. Across a range of advisory, consulting, outsourcing, and technology/analytics services, Navigant’s practitioners bring sharp insight that pinpoints opportunities and delivers powerful results. More information about Navigant can be found at navigant.com.