Deadliest Finance Issues for 2010

Michelle Pointe, for HealthLeaders Media , June 22, 2009

Moreover, says Snow, the industry is still at the phase where it is trying to understand buzz words like "administrative simplification" and "meaningful use" when it needs to move to the next level of tactical information. "A draft on meaningful use was released from David Blumenthal. Well, from a provider perspective how will that impact their spending if they cannot demonstrate that added technology brought about better outcomes?" As an industry we should be thinking about those "what if" questions, says Snow, "not just trying to understand the buzz words."

Is your team operating in peak condition?
Think your leadership team is a peak performer when it comes to communicating with one another? Patrick Lencioni, who gave the keynote address on day 1 (read the wrap up) of the conference is the author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. He says the absence of trust on even the best of leadership teams can ruin a company. Identifying trust issues is tricky. Management teams often fall into the trap of believing that trust exists among its members, simply because they have known each other for a long period of time.

But true trust, he says, comes when human beings on a team can be vulnerable and say things like I don't know the answer." As Lencioni tells it, one famous CEO, who ran his company into the ground, was brilliant but so intimidating nobody on his team would give him truthful feedback." This company spiraled out of control," he says. "When the Wall Street Journal says a company had a product issue, the real issue is there was no trust and vulnerability on the executive team."

Finding the right approach to patient collections
A lot of talk this year involved improving patient collections, from front to back end, especially with the continued growth in the self-pay population. As this population continues to grow, it will become critical for hospitals to have a strong program that not only segments patients on the front end, but is automated front to back. Some hospitals, in an effort to be as patient friendly as possible are carrying large balances in their patient payment plans and operating like a bank, while others are developing programs that offset some of that debt, at least temporarily, onto banks.

In Birmingham, AL, St. Vincent's Health System drove down accounts receivable days from 50 to 34 by implementing a patient credit card program that allowed the system to immediately collect on the debt from the issuing bank. "When you look at the parameters around the loan program and the no qualification score, you are rolling dice and hoping the patient will come through. You can do this intelligently by monitoring your recourse rates closely," said Jerry Smith, vice president of revenue cycle at St. Vincent's.

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Michelle Ponte

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