Best of the 2021 Crowe healthcare revenue cycle virtual symposium

Bringing the future into focus

6/4/2021

We used to say in healthcare that every dollar counts. Now, with revenue and cost pressures squeezing hospitals and health systems harder than ever before, we say every penny counts. With that new reality in mind, Crowe hosted the healthcare industry’s first virtual symposium on the healthcare revenue cycle on April 27, 2021. The nearly daylong symposium – themed “bringing the future into focus” – featured seven educational sessions for revenue cycle leaders who want to take their department’s revenue cycle performance to the next level. From motivation to automation, the sessions provided the 400-plus live attendees practical steps that they can take now to ensure their financial success in the future.

Here are highlights from the symposium, including session summaries, links to all session materials, and key numbers and insights to remember.  

1. Opening keynote

What the Fire Ignited: How Life’s Worst Helped Me Achieve My Best

Does the revenue cycle performance at your hospital or health system have you down? Shay Eskew has no sympathy for you. Shay would tell you to “embrace the suck,” stop feeling sorry for yourself, and do something about it now. Shay is a motivational speaker and author of “What the Fire Ignited: How Life’s Worst Helped Me Achieve My Best,” which tells the story of his journey from 8-year-old burn victim to a ranked Ironman triathlete. Shay gave the opening keynote presentation at the 2021 Crowe Healthcare Revenue Cycle Virtual Symposium. During his hourlong talk, Shay shared lessons from his journey with attendees, who can apply those same lessons in both their personal and professional lives. Colleen Hall, Crowe managing principal of healthcare, introduced Shay and set the tone for the educational sessions to follow. She credited revenue cycle leaders with working tirelessly behind the scenes in support of frontline healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.

Session 1

A number to remember

65%

Percentage of Shay Eskew’s body covered in burn scars following his accident

Source: Shay Eskew

“Now it’s time to stop looking in the past and to focus on the future. The fog of COVID is lifting, and it’s time for focus.”
– Colleen Hall, Managing Principal, Healthcare, Crowe

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What the Fire Ignited: How Life’s Worst Helped Me Achieve My Best

2. General session

Insights, trends, and strategies for revenue cycle teams of tomorrow

If you like a candid, gloves-off debate about the future of the healthcare revenue cycle, this roundtable discussion led by Colleen Hall, Crowe managing principal of healthcare, was for you. Her panelists were Heather Dunn, vice president of revenue cycle services at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, and Ben Reigle, founder of the Detroit-based RCM Leaders Forum. The first topic of hourlong debate? What new things that happened because of COVID-19 should stay, and which ones should go? Meeting patients where they are via telemedicine and other care innovations that eliminate waiting should stay. What should go is tolerating good but not great revenue cycle talent in your department. The trio also debated whether hospitals’ revenue cycle staff will return to the office in whole or in part, what revenue cycle operations will look like in 10 years, the pros and cons of revenue cycle automation, and whether the challenges between providers and payers will ever be resolved.

Session 2

A number to remember

91%

Percentage of general session attendees who said their organizations are embracing the changes from the pandemic and continuing to allow a work-from-home option into the future

Source: Crowe session attendee poll

“This is the perfect time for innovative revenue cycle leaders. But if you are a leader who needs to see a person sitting in a seat, good luck recruiting talent. People don't want that anymore. I have phenomenal employees that do not live in Nashville, and I am OK with that because they’re creating and innovating and pushing my revenue cycle. And I don't care where they're sitting.”
– Heather Dunn, Vice President, Revenue Cycle Services, Vanderbilt University Medical Center 

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Insights, trends, and strategies for revenue cycle teams of tomorrow

3. General session

Revenue cycle automation success stories: UnityPoint Health

If you think nobody takes revenue cycle performance more seriously than you do, you haven’t met Renee Rasmussen and Dennis Shirley. Renee is vice president of revenue cycle at UnityPoint Health, and Dennis is the executive director of patient financial services at the 21-hospital system based in West Des Moines, Iowa. Joined at this hourlong general session by Chad Peters, a Crowe automation leader of revenue cycle management, and Matt Szaflarski, a Crowe performance integrity leader of revenue cycle management, Renee and Dennis walked attendees through UnityPoint’s four-year journey to automate key functions in its revenue cycle operations, including its revenue cycle mission statement. To date, that journey has reduced annualized revenue cycle work hours by nearly 70,000 and has generated nearly $115 million in cash and cash acceleration benefits. Knowing how to start, what functions to target, and what actions to take are critical success factors for any hospital or health system that wants to pursue this same path. 

Session 3

A number to remember

68,388

Number of annualized work hours saved by UnityPoint by automating 3 revenue cycle functions

Source: UnityPoint Health

“With each of our targeted automations, we built a business case. Within each of those business cases, we defined our requirements and specific parameters. This step is really important, as it clearly defines for everybody involved exactly what we're automating, what steps we’re taking to deliver that automation, and the type of automation we’re using.”
– Dennis Shirley, Executive Director of Patient Financial Services, UnityPoint Health 

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Revenue cycle automation success stories: UnityPoint Health

4. Concurrent session

How automation is transforming accounts receivable management

Sometimes, you owe money. Other times, you’re owed money. You can be a debtor and a creditor at the same time. How much time do you spend paying off a debt or trying to collect a debt? Is the time you spend worth the dollar amount in question? Now multiply that scenario by millions, and you have what hospitals and health systems experience every day as they attempt to resolve outstanding patient accounts. During this 60-minute concurrent session, three Crowe revenue cycle leaders – Alex Boone, Chad Oakley, and Chad Peters – discussed how hospitals and health systems can use machine learning-powered technology to automate exceptions resolutions, credit balances, and debit balances to the satisfaction of patients, payers, and providers. Aside from the obvious benefit of improving cash flow, the benefits of automating accounts receivable management include improved employee satisfaction, accelerated productivity gains, enhanced compliance, and increased accuracy, scalability, and flexibility. It also frees up existing staff for higher-level revenue cycle tasks.

Session 4

A number to remember

4.5 minutes

Average amount of time it takes to resolve a patient account using automation via machine learning technology – compared with 15 minutes to do it manually

Source: Crowe analysis

“By automating your accounts receivable management, you’re freeing up your labor to focus on the right accounts at the right time with the right people.”

– Chad Peters, Senior Manager, Healthcare Consulting, Crowe 

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How automation is transforming accounts receivable management

5. Concurrent session

Healthcare in focus: How trends in policy, technology, and the healthcare market will reshape the industry over the next 5 years

How did we get here, and where are we going? Those are more than just existential questions to ponder at lunch. They’re practical questions healthcare revenue cycle leaders must answer to put their hospitals and health systems on a sustainable financial path into the future. During this concurrent session led by Andrew Sudimack, a manager within Crowe healthcare consulting who specializes in analytics and engagement, attendees learned what trends over the past 10 years shaped healthcare today and how the COVID pandemic accelerated or extinguished many of those trends. More importantly, Andrew identified the policy, technology, and market trends that will reshape the industry, especially in terms of revenue cycle and net revenue, over the next 10 years or more. At the top of his future-shaping list of trends were healthcare consumerism and the response of new market entrants and startup healthcare companies to meet patients’ growing demand for more convenience, control, and value.

Session 5

A number to remember

$14.1 billion

Venture capital funding of digital health technologies in 2020

Source: Rock Health

“Digital health is healthcare. Digital health has become so intertwined with traditional care and in many cases has replaced it. To consider digital health and traditional healthcare as separate entities is akin to considering physical banking and online banking as separate entities. Today we consider those as one and the same. It’s the same for digital health.”

– Andrew Sudimack, Manager, Healthcare Consulting, Crowe 

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Healthcare in focus: How trends in policy, technology, and the healthcare market will reshape the industry over the next 5 years

6. Concurrent session

Performance integrity: A smarter approach to performance monitoring, decision-making, and progress tracking

You might not realize it, but virtual assistants are sending you electronic alerts all the time. Your check engine light is telling you your car needs to be serviced. Your smartphone is telling you an important meeting starts in 30 minutes. Why not have a virtual assistant to tell you that there’s a problem with your revenue cycle that needs to be addressed? That’s the concept behind the new Crowe Performance Integrity revenue cycle software platform. During this hourlong concurrent session, Matt Szaflarski, a Crowe performance integrity leader of revenue cycle management, gave attendees a guided tour of the platform’s data-driven, predictive capabilities and how revenue cycle leaders at hospitals and health systems can use those capabilities to achieve dramatic improvements in their revenue cycle results. Leaders can use the platform to compare their revenue cycle performance against their peers in their market, set performance goals against those benchmarks, and then custom-calibrate the platform to alert them to their actual performance against those goals.

Session 6

A number to remember

10.1%

Initial claim denial rate in 2020, which is relatively unchanged from 2018 and 2019 despite continued investment in revenue cycle management technology

Source: Crowe RCA benchmarking warehouse

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Be part of the data-driven revolution in revenue cycle performance.

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Performance integrity: A smarter approach to performance monitoring, decision-making, and progress tracking

7. Closing keynote

Laser-focus on the road ahead: Tying it all together in a next-gen revenue cycle

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that hospitals and health systems can make dramatic changes in care delivery models and financial business models overnight, compared with traditionally taking months if not years to make even minor changes in how they run. Brian Sanderson, Crowe principal for healthcare consulting, opened this closing keynote session with a 60-minute presentation on the four drivers of new healthcare business models: automation, innovation, collaboration, and integration. He pointed out that, like responding to the pandemic, each of the four is getting intense and immediate attention from hospitals and health systems that want to make revolutionary – not evolutionary – change, including how they run revenue cycle. Colleen Hall, Crowe managing principal of healthcare, ended the closing keynote and the symposium with awards to 10 different health systems for revenue cycle performance. Six systems shared overall revenue cycle performance awards, two each in three different system size categories. The four others received separate awards for most improved revenue cycle, best (lowest) initial denial rate, best (lowest) late charge rate, and excellence in revenue cycle automation.

Session 7

A number to remember

59%

Percentage of closing keynote attendees who said the biggest benefit of automation in healthcare will be increasing the value of peoples’ contribution by replacing mundane tasks with more complex, more important tasks

Source: Crowe session attendee poll

“Patience is one thing that I’m not seeing a lot of anymore by CFOs with other kinds of operating models. They’ve been through some really challenging changes over the past year, and it’s hard to go back to an incremental mindset for performance improvement.”

– Brian Sanderson, Principal, Healthcare Consulting, Crowe 

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Laser-focus on the road ahead: Tying it all together in a next-gen revenue cycle

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11th annual Crowe Healthcare Summit
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12th annual Crowe Healthcare Summit
Denver
Sept. 19-22, 2022
Grand Hyatt Denver

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Colleen O. Hall
Colleen O. Hall
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Daniel Gautschi
Principal, Healthcare Consulting Leader