Jaded by a parade of recent revenue cycle implementations, leaders at Pana Community Hospital, in Pana, Illinois, sought a long-term solution to manage the revenue cycle across their critical-access hospital and clinics.
"We had already been through more conversions than we cared to go through, including one that increased our A/R days dramatically” said Trina Casner, president and CEO. "We wanted to work with an organization that was as committed to our success as we were."
For six months following implementation, Casner and her team engaged Cerner Transition Services to augment Pana’s small revenue cycle staff and help manage accounts receivable (A/R). The organizations collaborated closely, with regular visits and calls to quickly address questions and issues.
"The process brought all the right people to the table, to accomplish things that were time-sensitive," said Casner. “Everyone that needed to be there, was there. They were committed to the project and making it successful."
Pana leaders assumed a critical role driving success and ensuring the new system would work for their organization.
"We didn’t expect Transition Services to just take over and run with it,” said James Moon, chief financial officer. “We had a strong manager who was highly engaged because every hospital does things differently."
Transition Services helped prepare Pana teams to manage the new system and gradually transfer responsibility to them. Flexibility and open communication created a smooth transition between the organizations.
"We got to a point where they were supposed to hand something over for us to manage, and we said, 'We need another 10 days to get comfortable doing that,'" recalled Moon. "Transition Services pivoted mid-engagement to accommodate that."
Collaboration helped Pana leaders maintain revenue cycle stability during the conversion. In the five months following go-live, Pana Community Hospital and Clinics decreased average A/R days 6.8%.1
Transition Services also helped Pana staff understand Cerner Revenue Cycle and work billing queues within the system, which contributed to a 66.4% decrease in Pana Community Hospital and Clinics’ average discharged, not final billed (DNFB) standard delay and ready-to-bill days.2
“In an office where we only have four billers, that extra support really helped,” said Carol Hoehn, patient financial services manager. “They were working queues we didn’t even know existed yet.”
Migrating from disparate legacy platforms to a single revenue cycle system created efficiencies that endure beyond Pana’s engagement with Transition Services.
"Our hospital and clinics are under the same tax ID, so payers send one remittance to the hospital," explained Moon. "Before, we had to break those apart for the clinics and the hospital to do their portions. Now that we’re in one system, one individual can do all the posting."
Every new efficiency has a big impact on the small organization’s limited staff.
"It's especially helpful in our physicians' offices, where there might only be one revenue cycle staff member," said Hoehn. "Centralizing posting allows clinic staff to focus on billing."
As Pana teams retake full revenue cycle operations, they continue applying knowledge gained during their Transition Services engagement.
“We’re monitoring our metrics more frequently because we have the right tools," said Casner. Her team uses Lights On Network®, Cerner's enterprise-level data and analytics tool, to track progress daily. "It's very succinct and clear, and we're able to keep better tabs on our financial metrics," said Dianne Bailey, chief information officer.
The collaborative process established while working with Transition Services continues. "My team still gets together and works through issues," said Moon.
The process helps Pana staff share knowledge across sites, from beginning to end of the revenue cycle. "It's something simple, just work a queue together,” said Hoehn. “Questions just pop up, and somebody in the room will have an answer. It's helped us all work more closely.”
1 Comparing Pana Hospital and clinics’ combined 55.43 A/R days baseline average from April 2019 - August 2019 to 51.62 average A/R days from five months following go-live, October 2019 - February 2020. March 2020, the sixth month of Transition Services’ engagement, was excluded from calculations due to COVID-19’s impact.
2 Comparing Pana Hospital’s 6.26 DNFB standard delay and ready-to-bill days baseline average from April 2019 - August 2019 to 2.10 average DNFB standard delay and ready-to-bill days from October 2019 - February 2020. DNFB averages are limited to metrics that could be extracted from Pana’s legacy revenue cycle systems.