In this business profile, Doug Polasky, executive vice president at Xtend Healthcare, explains the importance of having sound workflow processes in a consolidated business office to ensure optimal performance and reduce costs.

Doug PolaskyTell me a little bit about your organization.

Through our diverse revenue cycle offerings, Xtend Healthcare helps hospitals and physician practices improve their short-term and long-term financial performance and productivity. We offer robust services and solutions aimed at effectively capturing payment from commercial and government payers as well as patients.

Given the current era of hospital-physician practice consolidation, our workflow process redesign and engineering service is particularly timely. We evaluate organizations' processes and staff expertise and then recommend improvements, suggest new technology options, and offer revised position descriptions to streamline business office functions. In addition, we develop a specific management action plan (MAP) for the leadership team to implement in priority order.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see affecting healthcare organizations?

Healthcare organizations face unrelenting cost pressures due to declining reimbursements, and we have seen those pressures intensify over the past few years. Providers are therefore trying to reduce costs in their delivery models. We often see organizations cut revenue cycle staff or focus on expense control in an attempt to rein in costs. In many cases, however, the effect is that these organizations collect less money.

Business office operations is a key area of concern, particularly when several business offices have been acquired and operate independently. Each office has different interpretations of what they should be doing, which leads to erosion and leakage of money across the revenue cycle.

However, consolidation can help diverse business offices align and standardize. There are tremendous benefits to merging business operations into a consolidated business office (CBO). For example, when an organization combines 10 business offices in one location, it can invest in technologies that remove unnecessary tasks and streamline workflow. It is easier to implement and standardize new technology and processes with everybody in one location rather than rolling out a solution across 10 locations.

How does your product or service offering(s) help address these needs?

By itself, putting everyone into one big office building doesn't get you anything. What matters is developing processes that allow specialization. As such, a CBO is a prime target for our workflow process redesign and engineering efforts. We help organizations improve their structure and processes with a variety of services, including property evaluation, IT infrastructure integration, organization structure redevelopment, and new process training.

We work with our clients to set up optimal organizational charts and also to develop systems that support an efficient workflow. Whenever we review workflow, we ask the staff why they are doing something a particular way. If the answer is, "I don't know—that's the way we've always done it," that indicates that some of the work has lost meaning or is providing no value. In those cases, we break down the work structure to see what staff should be doing and the best way to do it. This results in enormous savings of time and effort that have a huge financial impact. For example, our CBO services yielded $100+ million in annual savings and collections for a large, Chicago-area health system.

What are some key considerations for healthcare leaders when choosing this type of product or service?

It's important for the vendor to understand the healthcare organization's point of view about the problem it is trying to fix. The vendor should spend time getting to know the organization and its priorities. This process also allows organization leadership a chance to get to know who they are going to be working with. Providers should be sure to meet the members of the vendor team who are actually going to be delivering the service, in addition to the people who are involved in the sales process. You may like the team you're talking with initially, but when it comes to implementation, it may be an entirely different group of people, and you want to make sure everyone is comfortable and committed to the same goals.

What advice would you offer to healthcare leaders when choosing among vendors?

Look at the vendor's references and experience at like-size organizations. Often, hospital leaders do not perform proper due diligence and, as a result, they may miss things. For example, they may find that a vendor has only implemented a solution at a physician level and does not have deep hospital experience. Or, the organization may discover that a vendor doesn't have the bandwidth to assist a large health system. You want to select a vendor that is a good match, and you can get a sense of this through word of mouth, references, and networking.

As healthcare organizations implement use of your product or service into their day-to-day operations, what advice would you offer so they can best set themselves up for success?

Before even choosing a vendor, organizations should make sure that both sides know the expectations and the problem at hand and are invested in finding the solution. We encourage potential clients to commit to developing a clear and actionable request for proposal (RFP). If an RFP is not clear, and we don't understand the problem we're trying to solve, it can be difficult to fully scope a solution. We can provide assistance in refining an RFP through the use of analytical tools that confirm an organization's problem and the financial magnitude.

Are there any educational materials you would like to share to help healthcare providers in these efforts?

Contact us here for more information on our services.

HFMA is the nation’s leading membership organization for more than 40,000 healthcare financial management professionals. Business Profiles are funded through advertising with leading solution providers. Learn more.

Xtend HealthcareContent for this Business Profile is supplied by Xtend Healthcare. This published piece is provided for advertisement purposes. HFMA does not endorse the published material or warrant or guarantee its accuracy. The statements and opinions of those profiled are those of the individual and not those of HFMA. References to commercial manufacturers, vendors, products, or services that appear do not constitute endorsement by HFMA.

Publication Date: Sunday, May 01, 2016