In an interview, Adventist Health CIO Alan Soderblom spoke about HIT and revenue cycle innovation.
- Earlier this year, Adventist Health – an integrated healthcare delivery system – was named one of the nation’s most wired health systems in a survey conducted by Hospitals and Health Networks magazine. These organizations use information technology to better connect providers and patients and meet a set of rigorous criteria across four operational categories.
In an interview with RevCycleIntelligence.com, Adventist Health vice president and chief information officer Alan Soderblom spoke about what went into the achieving the aware, why being wired is important and why revenue cycle technology is poised for significant innovation.
According to Soderblom, the award was not something that the company set out to achieve and did not expect to win. Instead, it was the culmination of a vision that started twenty years ago. The company noticed that technology would transform healthcare and started on a path to adopt the right systems. In recent years, this technological focus has increased significantly. Then the company reached the point where many of its processes were automated and decided to submit for the title.
Aside from the award, Soderblom said that this also allowed them to say “where else should we be focused on? What else can we learn through the most wired process from others that would make us a better organization.”
Soderblom said that the addition of new technology solutions has been a gradual process over the last 20 years. Every year there are a handful of projects in the pipeline that need to go through a return on investment and transformation analysis.They have also whittled down the number of vendors they deal with to one – Cerner – which Soderblom credits as being a tremendous help in the healthcare technology decision making process, as well as making implementation simpler.
The biggest challenge that Soderblom has encountered is getting employees to buy-into new systems and change their workflow. In many instances they can be “stuck in a rut” and even if a new solution will improve operations, workers may need to be gently forced to change.
Revenue Cycle Innovation
The area of healthcare that will have the most innovation in the next few years is the revenue cycle.
“Well, it’s probably the number one thing that people like to talk about in healthcare, and some people might just disagree and say quality or access, but I hear it so often,” Soderblom said. “[I hear] about the complaints about the billing process and a piece of that is because of regulations and how you have to fill out separately to get the best services.”
He added that a lot of dollars are spent on just doing paperwork. Consumers are interested in being able to manage their own healthcare – registration, billing, scheduling – and removing the hassle that these processes can create, allows healthcare facilities to better focus on providing care and getting outcomes. This also helps facilities integrate solutions together for better operations.
“By marrying the financial with the clinical, I think you can better do that,” Soderblom said. “It’s again, not having to rely on interfaces that the scheduling is in the same system, where they want to document the care and everything works together hand in hand. So, if we can reduce the cost, too, then that puts us in a strategic advantage.”
Many organizations have legacy systems in place that get the job done but they do not provide the benefits to patients that make their lives easier. Instead, new systems focus on value and flexibility to the patient, which can be a win-win for patients and providers alike.
Soderblom did say that full revenue cycle innovation has not arrived yet, but it is getting there. The systems that Adventist Health are using and implementing now are being used by other companies as well. However, in the summer of 2015, phase 2 will start, which will feature more innovative systems.