Can new ways of “outside the box thinking” solve a growing self pay revenue cycle management challenge?

Revenue Cycle Management thinkingRevenue cycle management thought leaders should be ready to embrace new ways of solving business problems through creative thought processes such as design thinking. Design thinking is an age old thought process that could help create more positive outcomes in areas such as the increasing self pay issue?

Design thinking has been leveraged in more traditional areas such as mathematics, economic redevelopment and psychology studies, not processes based functions. Design thinking, as it relates to revenue cycle management could  become a new methodology for practical, resolution of problems or issues. On a daily basis, hospital revenue cycle management executives are seeking new solutions to existing problems using current skills and creative rational to identify opportunities for re-engineering revenue cycle management processes. Unfortunately, to date, there has not been any new “envelope stretching” ideas being employed to facilitate better cash collections. There are exhaustive discussions about how to do so, however to date the challenge still is one of the most pressing issues faced by revenue cycle executives today. Trying to solve operational issues typically is attempted by usual analytical thinking processes. New design thinking creative processes are based on the “building up” of ideas, such as the processes utilized in brainstorming or idea-storming. Hospital revenue cycle management leaders should encourage “thinking teams” to create new ideation formulations.

Breakthrough and “outside the lines” thinking is encouraged, thereby leading to creative problem solving solutions. The design thinking process follows seven stages: define, research, ideation, review, objectives, implementation, and evaluation. By following these seven steps, revenue cycle management challenges can be assessed, adjusted, and then lead to ultimately better operational solutions being chosen. The leading practice for design thinking in a hospital revenue cycle environment does not have to function in a linear manner. The process can happen in stages, at the same time or repeated to ensure a deep and thoughtful redesign.

Those willing to invest the time, and take steps to move from the status-quo, will initiate innovation, which ultimately will lead to the best solutions. Design thinking, sometimes referred to as design cognition drives unlimited creativity, ambidextrous thought processes, and gives stakeholders the zeal and curiosity to break the “its always been that way” thinking. For example, several years ago, many hospitals would not even consider outsourcing their entire self-pay financial class, and the functions that support it. The changes in the healthcare market have necessitated a change in thinking, looking seriously at outsourcing as a solution to rising non-collectable self-pay accounts. New technologies such as healthcare patient scoring and modeling have enabled outsourcing companies to zero in on the patients who have the resources to pay their bill and identify quickly which patients may meet the hospital’s charity or financial assistance policy.

What areas of the revenue cycle could benefit from new thinking for redesign or reinventing the way things are done? How could you and your team go about creating a design thinking solution to a current problem? To help solve the growing self pay issue, follow the steps listed above. Are you are really considering all options to solve this problem or are you stuck thinking with old methodologies. Become a change agent in your organization, take calculated chances, and surround yourself with team members who are willing to become innovators. The rewards for your efforts will be worth the risks. Or… you could do nothing and experience the status quo.

Phil C. Solomon is a healthcare finance and revenue cycle sales consultant and marketing strategist with experience spanning two decades. Phil has expertise in the areas of healthcare technology and business process outsourcing (BPO). He is the publisher of Revenue Cycle News, a healthcare revenue cycle blog and is a featured speaker at many HFMANAHAM and AAHAM healthcare educational conferences.

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