Odds are you’re one of the 90% of hospital leaders considering strategic outsourcing to combat margin pressure. Healthcare revenue cycle management (RCM) is a high-impact area that’s prime for outsourcing and capable of delivering much-needed financial relief to hospitals, especially as hospitals expect to lose more than $50B in net revenue this year
But entering into a deep committed relationship can be daunting. It requires vulnerability, trust, communication, compatibility and respect (just ask any marriage counselor). You have to find someone who really gets you. Because just like any significant relationship, it takes a lot more than chemistry to make a partnership successful.
Choose the right partner, you may go the distance together. This will be the company providing complete oversight of all processes throughout your revenue cycle from patient engagement to account resolution. The right RCM outsourcing partnership can reduce operating costs, streamline vendor management, substantially increase revenue and ultimately allow you to devote maximum focus to patient engagement and care.
Choose the wrong partner, you may be stuck with them. If done incorrectly, there can be a significant negative impact to your staff, community and your bottom line. But these contracts are typically long, and the integration is extensive. So, like many relationships gone wrong, people often choose to stay in them instead of spending the time and resources required to unwind from the failed partnership. Who wants to go through terminating a contract, finding a new partner and implementing another solution?
Bottom line: It pays to be thoughtful about who you partner with.
Here are six things to consider when looking for a compatible match.
1. Make sure they’re who they say they are (don’t get catfished).
Talk to the company’s current clients to determine if their results matched the sales pitch. It’s critical to check references and hear directly from your peers who’ve gone through the process. Don’t just take the vendor’s word.
2. Ensure you’re both on the same page.
It’s important to be very clear about what’s expected from each side, what the relationship deal breakers are and what vision everyone is working towards. Discuss your objectives, goals for the partnership and current challenges up front. A strong partner will be invested in your vision for the long-term and will work collaboratively to ensure your goals and incentives are aligned with theirs.
Ask about their approach to technology, systems and tools. Will they be able to work with your existing systems and tools or require certain technology to be decommissioned? What IT support will be required by your resources and what training will be provided to your end users?
3. Confirm they share your values.
Professional partnerships that are built to last have mutually inclusive priorities and shared values. Make sure your mission and cultures are aligned. Maybe you won’t be introducing them to mom and dad, but is this a partnership you’d be proud to announce to your community? Would your employees assimilate well into their organization? Does the vendor have the infrastructure and processes in place to smoothly transition, train and grow your employees?
4. Make sure it’s not one-sided.
Ask your potential partner how they will work to ensure that decision making about policies and procedures is inclusive of hospital leaders and aligned with hospital goals. Will a joint steering committee be established with equal representation by the hospital and vendor? If so, how early in the process? What other cross-functional communication channels will be established?
5. Set clear expectations from the start.
Ask them how they get started and how they ensure project success. These types of engagements are incredibly complex and require diligent project management and execution. Ensure the vendor has a process in place to get intimately acquainted with your processes, staff, workflows, systems and areas of opportunity. Make sure you feel comfortable with their ability to create and manage complex project plans and report out on key metrics before and after project go-live to ensure there is no productivity loss or dip in performance during the transition.
6. Look for the “whole package.”
Ask what they bring to the table outside of day-to-day operational management. The best partnerships are the ones that bring incremental value to the relationship beyond fulfilling day-to-day obligations.
Will your partner identify issues and help you resolve them, even if it’s not exactly what they signed up for? Will you be able to rely on them for insights and action plans related to payor policy changes to help you stay compliant and avoid preventable audits, claim rejections and denials?
Finding a partner who “completes you” can be difficult, but so worth it. The right RCM partner should provide support when you need it most and should grow beside you, helping you reach your full potential and deliver on your mission, through sickness and health, through good times and bad.