Working in a variety of provider settings, ranging from a large, multi-facility health system to a county-owned, short-term acute hospital, has given me a unique point of view on the engagement between HIM and the revenue cycle function. Even in cases where HIM reported directly to the vice president of revenue cycle and ultimately the chief financial officer, I typically felt that awareness of the challenges the HIM Director faced on a day-to-day basis was lacking.
As HIM leaders it is up to us to help bridge this awareness gap and become more integrated and aligned within the hospital revenue cycle. To that end I have identified two key elements of our role that need to be better understood by our revenue cycle peers.
1. Dealing with clinicians can be challenging. Most revenue cycle functions are built around the payer and the patient, not the provider. In HIM, we rely on the clinicians across departments to provide high-quality patient encounter data in a timely fashion. Without it, we cannot do our jobs. In many cases, however, the data lacks specificity and does not come in a timely fashion, which is not the HIM department's fault. To meet our objectives, HIM departments must have strong processes in place, in addition to solid working relationship with all clinicians to help avoid situations that can cause issues. that affect the quality and efficiency.
2. Owning the medical record is a significant and humbling responsibility. HIM Directors and staff take a tremendous amount of pride in being the custodian of the medical record. Governing the credibility and quality of this information while ensuring patient privacy is maintained is paramount to an efficient and effective revenue cycle and a compliant facility. We want to get it right and if that takes a few extra steps or a little more time, than so be it. HIM, revenue cycle, and the facility will all be better off in the long run by taking consistent, thorough approach.
To be clear, this is not whining. These are realities of an HIM Director's job. It is up to us to communicate this in a way that creates an environment of mutual respect and understanding with our revenue cycle peers. Just as we own the responsibilities of building collaboration with clinicians and maintaining legal medical records, we must also own the relationships with our revenue cycle peers to ensure the ultimate success of both departments.