From the Editor


Robert Fromberg, Editor-in-Chief

Everyone enjoys the beach in a little different way.

On a recent walk along the beach at sunset, I saw, among other things, a large man hunched over a metal detector; a boy and girl on bright purple bicycles; an entire family staring into a large, square net; a woman reading a book while buried in sand almost to her shoulders; a boy whose bathing suit was nearly pulled off by a wave; two children using sea grass to decorate a giant sand fish; a well-tanned family in white shirts posing for professional photos; a white-haired man texting; a woman imploring her child to get into the water; a man imploring his child to get out of the water; a woman shooting video of her children fighting; and a young man wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt on a 90-degree day.

As much as I try to be open-minded, I did find myself judging some people based on my own perspective of what a day at the beach should be-especially the people taking pictures and shooting video. Why not, I thought, just enjoy the sunset instead of making a record of it? That is, I felt that way until I found myself also taking pictures of the sunset.

Appreciating the differences among people is also important to hospital-based revenue cycle professionals as hospitals acquire more physician practices. That is the message of the cover story in this month's issue of hfm magazine, "Understanding What Makes Physician Practices Tick," by Thomas Freeman and Stan Stephen. The authors point out that hospitals and physician practices "are separate entities with goals, practices, and standards that are often very different from each other." The article proceeds to identify five key challenges to integrating physician and hospital revenue cycles, along with strategies to overcome each challenge, concluding that professionals on both the hospital and physician sides need to make the effort to understand what makes the other tick.

There is also diversity in how finance professionals view the concept of revenue. A revenue cycle professional looks at revenue as payment that needs to be secured in a fair and efficient way. However, a CFO also looks at revenue as something that needs to grow if an organization is to remain financially strong. And rating agencies also are concerned with how healthcare organizations will increase a hospital revenue growth rate that is the lowest in two decades, according to Moody's Lisa Goldstein in her article "Hospital Revenues in Critical Condition." Goldstein reviews the factors driving down payment from all sources, as well as the economic factors affecting volume and uncompensated care. Moody's negative outlook for the hospital sector is fueled in large part by this decline in top-line revenue growth. So while revenue cycle professionals are playing the critical role of maintaining the integrity of current revenue streams, hospital finance and other executives are looking for new revenue sources in the face of these pressures.

No matter what perspective you have on revenue, for hospitals, it's no day at the beach. 

Publication Date: Thursday, September 01, 2011

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