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Hospital CFOs Stretched Thin Because of EHR, HIE Investments

November 3, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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Hospitals that are financially struggling are blaming investments into electronic health records (EHRs), health information exchange (HIEs) tools, and patient portals as to why they can’t upgrade revenue cycle software, according to a new survey.

Black Book Rankings, from the New York-based Black Book Research, found that 94 percent of hospital CFOs in organizations that are struggling financially are in that position because of delayed or failed implementations in other IT systems, particularly the EHR. Those CFOs say their organizations have been forced to postpone revenue cycle management software investments until 2016.

On the flip side, those who are in a good position financially say that their facilities are moving full steam ahead with next generation RCM tools and preparing for the switch to new payment risk models based on improving patient compliance and population health management. Almost all have committed to next generation revenue cycle management, currently have implementations underway, or plan on either outsourcing or purchasing new RCM software by next year.  

“Most hospitals have no choice but to look for next generation RCM solutions in order to keep their organizations solvent,” Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book, said in a statement. “Increased self-pay volumes, lack of pricing transparency, no patient financial responsibility/estimation technology, and other reimbursement challenges are driving many marginally performing healthcare organizations to the brink.”

Black Book surveyed 590 hospital and inpatient organizations from 45 states. Those who are struggling are putting investments into RCM and population health on hold to complete patient engagement and EHR implementations. This, despite the fact that 86 percent of those CFOs say their organization must leverage next generation financial system technologies, including software and outsourced services, to keep solvent.

It could cost them their job. In fact, 73 percent of CFOs feel the pressure to make a complex RCM product decision without adequate capital for best-of-breed RCM, is a threat to their long term job stability. Twenty-eight percent of small and community hospital CFOs feel they will lose their jobs in 2016 regardless of the RCM choices they make in the next 12 months while 11 percent of academic center CFOs say the same thing.

The report also ranked the current vendors in the industry. McKesson RelayHealth was first in RCM software customer satisfaction and client experience among small/rural and community hospitals  while ZirMed was first for large hospitals and academic medical centers.

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