Provider executives are projecting more moderate revenue cycle IT budget growth and continued electronic health record optimization and consumer self-pay challenges, a new survey shows.
According to the annual HFMA/Navigant survey of 107 hospital and health system CFOs and revenue cycle execs, 68 percent said their revenue cycle IT budgets will increase over the next year, down from 74 percent last year.
The outlook is more optimistic among executives at smaller hospitals -- those with fewer than 300 beds. In all, 75 percent of such execs project revenue cycle IT budget growth, compared to 59 percent of execs at hospitals with more than 500 beds.
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Add revenue cycle to the list of EHR-related areas of dissatisfaction -- 56 percent of execs said EHR RCM adoption challenges have been equal to or outweighed benefits. And 56 percent can't keep up with EHR upgrades or underuse EHR functions, up from 51 percent last year.
While providers appear better prepared to address consumer self-pay, 81 percent still believe the increase in consumer responsibility for costs will continue to affect their organizations, as opposed to 92 percent last year.
At 47 percent, more hospital-based and larger hospital executives expect significant consumer self impact, compared to 33 percent of health system execs and 18 percent of smaller hospital execs.
Meanwhile, revenue integrity and EHR optimization continue to be the main focus areas for RCM improvement, with 76 percent of these areas involving or enabled by technology, the survey showed.
Competition for revenue cycle jobs is intense.
Making hiring qualified candidates even harder is that many health systems are seeking new graduates with specific degrees in healthcare management or administration. Systems are looking for proficiency with software like Epic, Cerner and Meditech, as well as strong math skills.