It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it? The holidays are supposed to be about coming together, spending time with loved ones, spreading joy and cheer and just being thankful and happy. But, for many of us, the holidays mean increased stress levels, holiday blues, or depression as the pressures of the season are just too overwhelming.
From keeping up with all of the activities, worrying about finances for buying gifts, to concerns about your health from the stress and overindulging in your favorite holiday treats, the holidays can sometimes be anything but joyful. And these holiday stressors are also similar to the stressors that can plague your organization’s revenue cycle.
Just Keeping Up
Tis’ the season for overscheduling yourself. Between family get-togethers, kids activities, fun with friends and work outings, it’s easy to understand how your calendar gets filled up so quickly during the holidays.
Similarly, working in your organization’s revenue cycle can feel overwhelming. From verifying patient eligibility and benefits to submitting and following up on claims, and tracking down denials and reimbursements, it’s a complicated process! But, because of tightened government regulations and the transition to value based care, a healthy revenue cycle is more important than ever. Ironically, as important as a healthy revenue cycle is, it’s also becoming more and more complex to manage.
Spending Too Much Money
Every year, it seems like the holidays get bigger and bigger, and the list of people to buy gifts for grows. You can’t forget your kids’ bus driver or the mailman! The National Retail Federation estimates that the average person is spending $1,007 on holiday gifts. And, even though 25% of Americans are still paying off last year’s credit card debt from holiday spending, 75% plan to use a credit card to pay for gifts this year.
The trend of spending more is also applicable to managing your organization’s revenue cycle. As healthcare becomes increasingly more complex, more and more staff resources are needed to follow-up on claims, manage patient billing and collections. Around 30% of healthcare expenditures in the United States are the result of administrative costs, marking our nation with one of the highest administrative costs in the world. We simply spend too much money on processes within the revenue cycle that could be automated.
Let’s All Get Along
Gathering with family, extended family and friends around the holidays often leads to disagreements and disappointment. Issues like who is going to host Thanksgiving, who is bringing what dish, who sits next to whom, and who gets stuck at the kids’ table when there isn’t enough room at the adult table are all things to cause angst for many people. These are all reasons why some choose not to attend gatherings or limit the people they invite or spend time with.
Avoiding disappointment is also why some avoid going to the doctor or hospital. They don’t have insurance and don’t know that they have options, they don’t understand their coverage, they were angry when they received a ‘surprise bill’ after their last appointment, or they feel like a number in the healthcare system. None of these reasons should prevent someone from seeing a doctor or hospital when there are solutions that can help your organization provide your patients with accurate, out-of-pocket estimations and provide alternative payment options for patients that can’t afford their bills.
Finding a Balance
The fourth major holiday stressor for many people is trying to find balance between good, healthy food and the sugar, spice and everything fattening. A study by Cornell University found that people put on an average of 1.3 pounds during the holidays and it takes five months to shed that extra weight. Indulging in moderation, and having a balance of healthy food and a few treats is the key to maintaining your pre-holiday figure.
The healthiest revenue cycles have a proper balance of people and technology. Not everything in the revenue cycle can be automated – people will always be needed. But, manual tasks like submitting and following up on claims, managing remittances, and providing patient eligibility and out-of-pocket estimations shouldn’t require a manual process.
This Thanksgiving, we wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy holiday that is filled with the perfect balance of activities, gifts, family and food.
Ken Magness is a focused healthcare professional with more than a decade of experience in helping clients understand the true value of automation in the revenue cycle management process. As the Strategic Initiatives Leader at Quadax, Ken and his team are passionate about connecting with healthcare providers to help them create and leverage the appropriate technology solutions to optimize the revenue cycle process and improve the experience of their patients and staff.