Healthcare Business Insights 2021 Virtual Summit: Top four themes for hospital executives

Clarivate Executive Director Jerica Hopkins distills the top themes and takeaways from the Healthcare Business Insights 2021 Virtual Summit, where hospital executives gather to learn, share best practices and network about industry challenges and opportunities.

This past month, Clarivate hosted its 2021 Healthcare Business Insights Virtual Summit, Converting crises into a new era of modus operandi. Across six sessions and two days, nearly 200 revenue cycle, clinical quality and supply chain leaders joined to hear about new processes, lessons learned and progressive strategic plans from 10 of their hospital and health system peers.

The following article shares the top four topics discussed during these sessions and resulting Q&A between speakers and attendees.


1. Teach and support

Aside from the new and more permanent remote work environment, presentations focused on setting staff up for success. Given initial services and revenue decreases, efforts to prevent errors and denials have become more vital.

Nebraska Medicine recognized that about one-fourth of its workforce was either at or nearing retirement age and that 50% of leaders hired from external locations or industries failed within two years. Vice president of revenue cycle Jana Danielson and chief legal and advocacy officer Anna Cramer shared how the organization reimagined internal staff development in their presentation “Homegrowing tomorrow’s skills in today’s talent while ensuring diversity and inclusion.” This includes recurring one-on-one career planning sessions and a revenue cycle-specific growth and development program that allows staff to lead a performance improvement opportunity working with the VP of revenue cycle. Also, a program was just initiated that will have revenue cycle departmental leaders rotate their areas of oversight every three years. It will start by having the patient financial services director will move to patient access, the patient access director to health information management and revenue integrity, and that director will oversee other patient-facing units.


2. Automate

Automating tasks is another key way to support career progression. Organizations sharing automated processes indicated that their impetus was to better use and apply staff resources to more complex work.

Cognizant that patient populations have different communication preferences, Legacy Health’s senior director of revenue cycle Amanda Gordon shared how the organization allows patients to opt for payment and appointment reminders as well as make payment by either phone, email or text in addition to live interactions. They will soon be able to text back to create a new payment plan or add a new balance. In the presentation “Evaluating the return of AI and automation in revenue cycle,” Gordon discussed how those patient payment options generated $3 million in additional cash flow across hospital and clinic accounts.

In the same presentation, two leaders from The MetroHealth System—director of patient financial services Nikki Davis, and director of revenue cycle operations Mary Ann Olschlager—talked about how they applied artificial intelligence to their organization’s insurance verification process. A bot checks eligibility for Medicare based on age as well as for Medicaid before classifying a patient as self-pay. It verifies the included insurance information and can update fields such as subscriber ID or effective dates. So far, the rate of accurate registrations improved to 93%, which represents $327 million in charges that will be appropriately billed for. If annualized, that amount becomes $1.9 billion.


3. Advance inclusion and diversity

The concept of reality not quite matching perception was a theme that was repeated by speakers across topics. For Hennepin Healthcare, there was an initial concern that there could be a large portion of patients without access to telehealth. In the presentation “Operational convergence: working together to advance vaccination, telehealth, and health equality,” Hennepin Healthcare’s interim chief medical officer Daniel Hoody said that a survey of its community found that nearly 90% of patients had the access and comfort level needed to participate in telehealth, but that non-English speaking populations were less likely to utilize it. Front-end call center recordings also revealed that terms like “in-person” and “virtual” did not have a one-to-one translation in Spanish or Somali, so communications were adjusted for clarity. Access guides were also sent via PDF and/or videos with the appointment reminders. As a result, the utilization rate among these populations rose from 40% to 60%.

To make a true impact on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Nebraska Medicine knew it needed to first listen to and engage its staff. It held listening sessions so that staff could express their experiences as colleagues and community members. The organization made use of resources including:

  • a program where staff facing difficult situations can reach out to peers trained to assist,
  • a program that provides counselor or psychologist support at no cost, and
  • Employee Resource Groups that are completely employee-driven and help brainstorm solutions to arising issues as well as build, expand and create a pipeline for professional opportunities.


4. Digitalize

More than one leader noted how the pandemic has helped leaders embrace and trust a quicker pace of advancement. At Dayton Children’s Hospital, reminders are sent by text, except for clinic visits requiring questionnaires to be filled out. However, because it has found that text results in a higher patient connection rate in the pediatric setting, it plans to make the pre-service process completely paperless.

Both Oschner Health and St. Luke’s Health System shared new pre-arrival and arrival processes. Both instituted digital and low-contact processes at the onset of the pandemic or for vaccination that will become the norm. At Ochsner, Patients can conduct an ePre-check (a pre-registration) via the patient portal and choose to then check in at a kiosk or tablet or with a live staff member. Check-in can also occur via a mobile device. Otherwise, patients can also call a designated line to complete registration over the phone, and receive a call or text notifying them when to report to their service area.

The fifth most common topic explored was vaccination. Watch this space for updates on where vaccination processes stand today, how they are being formalized going forward and their resulting innovations. Healthcare Business Insights will be publishing a report on this topic in the coming months.

We are excited to hold our Member Retreat once again  in person in Denver, Colorado, on September 22-24. Click here to stay up to date on event details and to save your spot!


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