From the Chair


Greg Adams, FHFMA

When Japan beat the United States to win its first Women's World Cup in July, some said the Japanese soccer team had been lucky. But others countered that they made their own luck.

Each time the Americans took the lead, the Japanese redoubled their efforts and evened the score. "When the Americans score a goal, they stop moving their feet," said Coach Norio Sasaki. "We saw that."

Healthcare revenue cycle management may seem like it's a world away from international soccer. But the game-winning strategies are not so different: A key to success is maintaining maximum effort, even after you score. That's the best way to achieve your full potential and to avoid being left behind as others match and surpass your performance.

HFMA's 2011 MAP Award winners understand the importance of maintaining maximum effort. For example, as part of a revenue cycle improvement initiative, Birmingham, Ala.-based Princeton Baptist Medical Center (a two-time MAP Award winner) sought to increase its clean registration, insurance verification, and service authorization rates. Its service authorization rate, in particular, had been as low as 35 percent. Although it was clearly a metric that needed to be targeted for improvement, some hospitals would have eased up on their efforts after increasing that rate significantly. Not Princeton Baptist. The hospital set benchmark targets based on best practice standards, so even after doubling the service authorization rate, they kept right on going over a period of two years, raising it to 90 percent and 95 percent in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Princeton Baptist also took advantage of its new revenue cycle technology. Recognizing that the IT system it had acquired for preregistration processing also had the capacity to transmit orders between physicians' offices and the preregistration area, the hospital canceled an outsourced contract for handling physicians' orders. By eliminating this duplicate service, it achieved $186,000 in cost savings.

When the revenue cycle team scores a goal, the entire hospital can be the winner. The patient's interaction with the hospital's billing and collection process is part of a patient's total experience with a hospital, so it stands to reason that it can play an important role in shaping a patient's overall perceptions of a hospital. And a good experience with a hospital's patient accounting department can become a story that a patient enjoys sharing with others.

HFMA research has shown that high performers in revenue cycle may not always have the latest technology or belong to organizations with the most financially desirable characteristics, but they do share a spirit of perseverance, enthusiasm, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

So when you score a goal, whether in the revenue cycle or some other aspect of your professional life, keep moving your feet. Keep thinking about your next opportunity to score. And keep thinking about ways to win-for yourself, your department, your organization, and most of all, your patients and the community you serve.

Publication Date: Thursday, September 01, 2011

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