Survey: These are healthcare CFOs' biggest fears

Recession, labor shortages, increasing costs and care delays due to insufficient capacity were among the top concerns chief financial officers and vice presidents of revenue cycle shared in a new survey published by R1 RCM on Wednesday.

In an online survey, 205 CFOs and VPs of revenue cycle in the U.S. from large health systems and physician groups shared concerns about the financial health of their organizations and issues they face, including clinical and operational deficiencies due to the labor shortage.

R1 RCM, a major provider of technology-driven revenue cycle management, commissioned Censuswide to collect data for the survey in June.

“It really did reinforce what we were hearing on a day-in and day-out basis: that the post-pandemic environment with the macroeconomic pressures that are occurring in our country are really having a detrimental impact on the financial health of many organizations,” Gary Long, R1 executive vice president and chief commercial officer, told Fierce Healthcare.

In the survey, all respondents agreed that operational strain due to the labor shortage is negatively impacting patient experience.

Increasing costs were cited as the top concern when it came to the financial health of organizations, followed by the risk of a recession, shrinking margins and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services/payer reimbursements.

About a third said their organizations are currently experiencing clinical and operational deficiencies due to the labor shortage along with cybersecurity threats, issues with price transparency compliance, lowered patient volumes due to COVID-19 surges, navigating value-based payments and increasing expenses due to increased patient acuity. About 22% of respondents said they are experiencing supply chain issues.

Over 90% of respondents said they believe the return to routine healthcare post-COVID will put additional strain on their departments.

Almost half of respondents said they are behind for their 2022 revenue goals, while 40% said they are on target to meet goals. Over 90% of respondents said they are experiencing a labor shortage in their RCM department, and many said over half of those roles are currently vacant.

With those challenges in mind, about a third of CFOs and VPs said they will focus on finding a strategic RCM partner in the second half of the year. About a quarter of respondents said they are looking at solutions such as adopting new software or technology or eliminating redundant systems.  

CFOs and VPs said they are currently addressing the effects of RCM and billing department labor shortages by adopting automation technologies such as patient self-service technologies, expanding employee benefits/compensation, partnering with a strategic RCM company that specializes in an outcomes-focused approach to optimizing the entire revenue cycle and consolidating job functions.

Long said one of goals of the survey was to understand the openness of organizations to entertain more of a partnership with vendors than the typical transactional relationship due to R1’s focus on long-term strategic partnerships, Long said.

Nearly all respondents said they have developed a more favorable sentiment toward a global delivery model that would optimize RCM operations affected by the labor shortages.