More than 400 healthcare finance leaders reported having revenue cycle workforce shortages, with almost 20 percent seeing 30 or more vacancies.
Healthcare finance leaders are experiencing revenue cycle workforce shortages, with one in four reporting that they need to hire more than 20 employees to fully staff their department, according to a survey commissioned by AKASA and conducted through the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA).
HFMA surveyed 411 chief financial officers and revenue cycle leaders at hospitals and health systems through its Pulse Survey program between December 1 and December 21 of 2021.
Nearly 60 percent of leaders reported having 100 or more vacancies across all hospital operations. Among those, almost 20 percent had more than 600 open roles.
When it came to the revenue cycle department, all survey respondents reported having at least one vacancy. Sixty percent of leaders had between one and ten open roles, 14 percent had between 11 and 20, 7 percent reported between 21 and 30 vacancies, and 19 percent had more than 30 open revenue cycle roles.
Around 25 percent of healthcare finance leaders noted that they would need an additional 20 or more employees to have a fully staffed revenue cycle department.
Nearly 65 percent of respondents said there were 30 or more current members on their revenue cycle team, while 8.3 percent had between 21 and 30 members. The remaining 27 percent reported having between one and 20 staff members.
Hospitals and health systems have turned to automation and artificial intelligence to help address revenue cycle staffing shortages.
Automation can increase staff productivity, adapt to fluctuating volumes, and improve patient financial experiences, the survey noted. In addition, leveraging automation solutions can provide health systems with an opportunity for cost restructuring.
“It’s the oldest thing in the book,” David Ralston, vice president of revenue cycle at Jackson Hospital, told RevCycleIntelligence in a past interview. “We have limited resources of people, so we need to work on processes to make revenue cycle more efficient. So, we look at technologies to augment the staffing that we have.”
In 2021, the number of health systems using revenue cycle automation increased by 12 percent, rising from 66 percent to 78 percent.
Healthcare organizations have implemented automation to help with document processing, chart reviews, denials management, and prior authorization processes.
A separate survey from HFMA commissioned by AKASA revealed the particulars of revenue cycle staffing shortages. Nearly 60 percent of healthcare finance leaders said they needed registrars, 55 percent required billing specialists, and 42 percent said patient follow-up staff members were in demand.
Leaders noted that they were struggling to recruit revenue cycle management staff and said retaining current staff was difficult due to the time and resources needed to train revenue cycle specialists.