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by Jeff Hurst
Published on December 13, 2017

As we approach the holidays, a time for reflection and spending time with family and friends, it’s also necessary to recognize the important work that unites all of us in health care.

We work alongside our clients, partners and peers to continuously move the meter in creating better health and financial outcomes. In order to do that, we make a concerted effort to build transparent relationships and encourage bi-directional dialogue to ensure we’re on the right path forward.

Back in August, I shared how we’re developing our revenue cycle management (RCM) portfolio to not just be clinically-driven, but consumer- and statistically-driven as well. We’re positioned to do that through the technology advancements we’ve released in 2017, along with the bodies of work we’re planning for the future.

As the leader of Cerner’s RCM organization, it is my privilege to share our continued progress across three core advancements: code improvements, advanced associate expertise and an improved delivery infrastructure. I’m also excited to share our focus areas for 2018 and beyond.

Code improvements that meet business needs

I frequently talk about our Clinically Driven Revenue CycleTM, Cerner’s approach to aligning clinical, financial and operational data within a single integrated platform. Anticipating the growing expectations, cost pressures and risks associated with value-based care, we are expanding our development strategies to encompass not just clinical and financial integration, but analytics and the consumer experience as well. These business drivers guide the development of our solutions and services to ultimately help our clients increase yield, accelerate cash and decrease costs, so they are better positioned for success in the future.

Our solution development strategy continues to support Cerner Millennium® and Cerner Soarian® platforms. It leverages common componentry across both to illuminate opportunities for integration and optimization so our clients leverage the ‘best of breed’ content of our combined portfolio. In turn, we incorporate direct client feedback through our development partner relationships and from clients who engage RCM services through Cerner RevWorksSM, the services arm of our business. Meanwhile, we provide ongoing support to clients using our legacy solutions until they are ready to migrate to the best platform for their needs.

In 2017, we delivered a variety of solution advancements that map to one or more of the business drivers by which we guide our development efforts. Here are a few examples, along with innovations we’re planning for the future.

Available today:

  • Optimized user experience through Message Center integration with Millennium Revenue CycleTM, a timeline view that displays historical activity on a patient account, and a supervisor view that enables easy allocation of work and performance monitoring from one screen
  • Robust financial clearance capabilities through Experian integration along with scheduling authorization alerts
  • Consumer engagement improvements that allow for scheduling FHIR services and the creation of a new patient appointment, regardless of which patient portal is used
  • Seamless contract and claims management with embedded nThrive edits, a new contract management engine and enhanced variance workflow
  • Functions to support alternative payment models (APMs), including collection and linking of claims to better facilitate bundled payments along with disbursement of payment
  • Analytics/reports that track relative value unit (RVU) and denials management
  • Integration updates including integration with CommonWell Health Alliance, HealtheLife Soarian self-scheduling and embedded 3M coding

In development*:

  • Improvements to front-end experience through patient access optimization for Millennium Revenue Cycle and claim or balance level coding
  • Continued financial clearance workflow integration with Experian suite and auto plan identification/assignment
  • Consumer-focused features including guided scheduling through the HealtheLifeSM portal and online bill pay ignite API services
  • Claims and contract management advancements with common, cloud-based claims solution, SSI embedded edits and claims status integration
  • Enhanced APM management that further automates linking of claims and uses our contract management engine to calculate reimbursement
  • Analytics evolvement that includes cost accounting as well as patient accounting work items within Millennium Revenue Cycle to better track and allocate assignments
  • Expanded integration between Millennium registration and scheduling and Soarian Financials
  • Embedded InterQual AutoReview™ with Millennium Acute Case Management

*The projected release for these capabilities is in 1-3 years.

A culture that empowers expertise

The revenue cycle is no longer merely a cost accounting function, but an integral part of the business, and we’re instilling that belief within our own culture. Here at Cerner, we want to create the best environment for our revenue cycle associates by providing them with the resources and experience to successfully manage projects and create value for our clients — particularly as our organization grows exponentially over the next few years.

The Cerner Revenue Cycle Certification Program (CRCP) continues to train a steady stream of experienced financial professionals. Required of associates implementing and supporting our clients, it arms them with solution expertise along with Certified Revenue Cycle Representative (CRCR) certification from the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA). In fact, we plan to extend HFMA membership and credentialing to thousands of our associates over the next few year giving them access to additional content and continuing education programs.

Additionally, there are new investments in scope for 2018. These include an internal shadowing program that pairs new associates with project leads who have ten or more years of experience. These associates will gain hands-on experience with their tenured counterparts in pre-implementation analysis, project planning, design and implementation, and ongoing support to ensure their exposure spans across the entire client engagement. We are also in the process of designing a new corporate space for our Kansas City-based RevWorks associates to accommodate a more collaborative environment and the necessary technology to manage the broad scale of services engagements for our clients.

Improved delivery experience through best practices and services support

Most of our clients are familiar with the Model Experience, our methodology for providing subject matter expertise, solution best practices and standards to guide implementation, testing, training and communication across our client base. It is the focal point for Cerner’s delivery structure across all solutions and services, and serves as a primary mechanism for harvesting lessons learned, feedback and enhancements to foster ongoing improvement. For all RCM projects, we pair Model recommendations with operational guidance to ensure clients achieve optimal adoption, utilization and performance from their Cerner system.

Cerner RevWorks, is another strategic business model that integrates people, process and technology to help our clients improve workflow efficiencies, meet organizational metrics and control cost to collect. We provide a scale of RCM service offerings to help with a variety of business challenges, including transition services, target project work to meet specific client needs, business office management and full outsourcing where Cerner takes on day-to-day management of a client’s revenue cycle operations.

RevWorks operates on either the Cerner Millennium or Cerner Soarian platforms, using processes that leverage our Model Experience recommendations. Most importantly, we invest in a financially bound agreement in which we share accountability for goals and risks with our clients and work together toward improved financial outcomes. Each RevWorks relationship gives us deeper insight into how our solutions operate on a daily basis within a client environment, so we can take corrective action to improve specific functionality while innovating new ways to solve business problems.

2017 was a big year for RevWorks, and it will continue to be a prominent driver in our business development over the next several years. RCM services are becoming more prevalent in the industry as well. In fact, Black Book projected the market for outsourced RCM would grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.5 percent through 2018, and ranks Cerner no. 1 for End-to-End RCM Outsourcing, Physician Practices & Groups, two years in a row. We anticipate this trend will continue, particularly as demand for physician and ambulatory outsourcing increases.

Revenue cycle is the place to be

Avenues like the Model Experience and Cerner RevWorks help us deliver best practices and results to our clients. More importantly, they nurture a collaborative and open dialogue that is essential to improving our solutions and services, and building a mutual trust which I believe is far more meaningful than a typical vendor relationship. Considering the depth of talent, passion and opportunity that I’m privileged to surround myself with every day, I wholeheartedly believe that revenue cycle is the place to be right now.

With that said, as we approach 2018, I’d like express sincere gratitude for our clients, partners and associates who teach and inspire our company to continuously improve our solutions and services so that we all can deliver the best care possible to our communities. Thank you for helping us improve every year. I look forward to our continued collaboration in the years to come.

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