ASC business offices should strive to improve their performance, even when that performance is strong. By consistently setting and working toward goals that can enhance business office performance, ASCs will better set themselves up for short- and long-term revenue cycle management success.
Here are nine revenue cycle goals that can positively impact your ASC's bottom line and deliver other noteworthy benefits.
1. Set aggressive KPI targets
Wanting your revenue cycle performance to improve is different from willing it. Help drive your team to excel and bring your ASC to new revenue cycle highs by setting aggressive — and still reasonable — key performance indicator (KPI) targets. Doing so will show that you believe your staff can elevate their performance and will support their efforts to do so (more on this below).
2. Invest more in staff
Good talent is hard to find and keep these days. One way you can improve your chances at retention while helping motivate staff to perform their jobs more effectively and efficiently is to invest in your team. Investments can take a variety of forms, from raises beyond a standard cost of living increase, individual and team performance bonuses, promotions, and education and training (internal and external). Even small, periodic investments have the potential to deliver significant returns on investment.
3. Improve weaker processes
Routine is generally good in an ASC. From a business office perspective, routine can help ensure all revenue cycle processes are completed. But routine can also prove harmful if one or more of those processes has deficiencies. If the overall revenue cycle performance appears strong, such shortcomings are easier to overlook.
For example, if it takes a little longer for claims to get out the door than they should but you consistently receive correct payments, the delay isn't a big deal, right? Maybe … for now. But problems don't tend to fix themselves and usually only worsen with time. In addition, if a team member is allowed to slide by with subpar performance, other staff might feel compelled not to work as hard themselves without fear of retribution.
If you know of a weakness in one of your revenue cycle processes, get to work on fixing it. Even if you do not notice a significant positive change from achieving an improvement, find solace in knowing that your efforts likely avoided more significant problems down the road.
4. Leverage technology in new ways
When an ASC adds a new piece of technology, the functions staff use during the first weeks following launch are often the only ones that are used for much of the life of that technology. Yet, in most cases, there are many other features included with the technology that can help staff and the ASC. That's why it's worthwhile to periodically explore whether and how you can further leverage the technology implemented in your ASC. You may be surprised to find some "hidden" functions that can give your revenue cycle a boost.
5. Perform at least one revenue cycle QAPI project annually
When thinking about topics for quality assurance and performance improvement (QAPI) projects, there is a tendency to focus on clinical and operational issues that can impact quality of care. But QAPI should also include financial issues. Strive to complete at least one revenue cycle QAPI project every year.
Unsure how to select such a topic? My colleague Daren Smith explains, "Data is pivotal to identifying worthwhile QAPI topics. An ASC that effectively captures data on its performance will have insight into areas of strength and weakness, with the latter representing strong opportunities for studies. … The good news for most ASCs is that they are probably collecting a tremendous amount of data on their performance, whether they realize it or not. ASCs typically perform some form of monthly monitoring of their financials."
6. Challenge staff to set professional goals
It's critical to establish goals for your entire business office, such as hitting KPI targets and achieving revenue growth. To help meet those objectives, encourage staff to set their own professional goals. What do they want to accomplish? How do they want to be performing by year's end? What will they need to do to get there? These goals may concern specific metrics associated with their work but could also include education and training intentions. Team members focused on their own professional goals tend to be more motivated and engaged with overall business goals.
7. Strengthen physician-staff communication
When business office staff can more easily access physicians to ask questions about a procedure, dictation, and/or documentation, staff can better ensure the accuracy of their work. This increases the likelihood that your ASC will be paid appropriately and in a timely fashion. Examine the processes you have in place for physician-staff communication. Are there opportunities for improvement? If so, consider reviewing and acting on some of these steps.
8. Improve communication with patients concerning financial responsibility
Patients are increasingly responsible for a greater portion of their healthcare costs, which requires ASCs to effectively collect these higher amounts. But that's not always easy when considering the anxiety and confusion patients may experience when informed of their personal expenses.
Improving patient collections begins with improving communication with patients about their financial responsibility, with a significant focus on education. Be prepared to help patients understand why they owe what they owe. Insurance is complex. Patients often expect their caregivers to help them understand all aspects of their care, including insurance requirements. For tips to improve the patient collections process, read this blog.
9. Celebrate more successes and milestones
We'll end this list with a lighter, but still very worthwhile goal. When you set goals, they must be defined in such a way (i.e., measurable) that you know whether they are accomplished or not. Whether it's a big goal with little pieces leading up to success or small but still significant improvements, ensure you take the time to celebrate the work and achievements. Celebrations can improve staff satisfaction, create stronger bonds between team members (including physicians who participate in the celebrations), and help drive staff to continue working toward goals.