In the healthcare industry, revenue cycle managers are facing high levels of burnout due to the fast-paced adoption of new technologies, changing regulations, and constant pressure to improve reimbursements. This burnout can have serious consequences, not just for the RCM professionals themselves but also for the financial stability and quality of patient care in healthcare institutions. In this article, we will discuss the causes of RCM burnout, its effects, and the steps that can be taken to address this issue. We will also look at statistics and insights from industry experts to understand the challenges in revenue cycle management and find ways to support professionals in this field.
Revenue Cycle Management Burnout Statistics
Revenue cycle management burnout has been on the rise among healthcare leaders. Before the pandemic, a Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) poll conducted on June 26, 2018, revealed that 45% of healthcare leaders reported feeling burnt out in their job, with an additional 28% saying they felt “somewhat” burnt out. This makes a total of 73% of healthcare leaders who felt burnout in 2018.
Fast forward to 2022, the MGMA conducted another poll, this time asking healthcare leaders if their level of stress and/or burnout had changed in 2022. In this poll, a striking 80% of healthcare leaders reported increased stress or burnout.
What’s Causing Burnout Among Revenue Cycle Professionals?
The overwhelming majority of respondents who reported increased stress and burnout stated that it was due to staffing issues, which often resulted in an increased workload. This was coupled with the rapid changes in the healthcare landscape, which made decision-making based on data challenging as the data quickly became outdated. Retaining clinical workers became increasingly difficult, and this, in turn, had a domino effect causing operations to suffer and leaving clinics short-handed and overwhelmed. Routine tasks such as scheduling appointments and returning calls became difficult to manage efficiently. Moreover, the increased competition among healthcare organizations for staffing led to increasing wages, which had a significant financial impact on the organizations. Some of the most significant causes of burnout are discussed in detail below.
Shortage of RCM Professionals
The healthcare industry faces a significant shortage of RCM professionals with a 2023 survey showing 63% of providers are experiencing staffing shortages in their RCM departments. This shortage burdens the existing workforce as they are required to “do more with less.” As the demand for RCM professionals outpaces the supply, the existing staff must grapple with an increasing workload. This, in turn, leads to burnout among revenue cycle professionals who are critical in ensuring the financial health of healthcare organizations.
The underlying causes of the RCM staff shortage can be traced to multiple factors, including an increasing demand for healthcare, driven in part by the growth in the aging population, the demand for new tech skills, and the burnout that’s affecting the majority of healthcare workers.
Increased Financial Strain on Healthcare Organizations
Healthcare organizations are experiencing increased financial strain. The Medical Group Management Association reports 97% of healthcare organizations have had a negative financial impact from COVID-19. In addition to decreased volume, hospitals and practices have faced increased expenses from purchasing new technology to accommodate telehealth practices and personal protective equipment.
Prior authorization is another factor contributing to burnout among revenue cycle professionals. This administrative burden is not only costly but also diverts resources away from direct patient care. According to a survey conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) in December, one-third of the 1,001 physicians who participated reported that prior authorization has caused a serious adverse event in a patient under their care, including hospitalization, a life-threatening event, disability, or permanent bodily damage.
Medical practices complete an average of 45 prior authorizations per physician per week, consuming almost two full business days or 14 hours of physician and staff time. The time and effort expended on these administrative tasks contribute significantly to the stress and burnout experienced by revenue cycle professionals, who are already under pressure due to staffing shortages and financial strains.
How to Mitigate Burnout in Your RCM Team
Despite these grim statistics, there are steps you can take to alleviate the burden on your RCM team and prevent burnout.
Automate Whenever Possible to Alleviate the Workload on Your RCM Staff
Implementing RCM automation can significantly reduce the workload on your RCM staff. Automation can handle repetitive tasks efficiently, allowing the RCM team to focus on more complex and value-adding activities. Using software incorporating recent advances in artificial intelligence, you can automate tedious workflows such as eligibility verification, registration, good faith estimates, claim submissions, and denial detection. Automation reduces the number of people-hours needed for many tasks and streamlines processes, which can help prevent burnout in your team.
Be Flexible in Working Hours
Research by Future Forum found that 53% of employees who are dissatisfied with their level of flexibility say they are burned out compared to 37% of employees who are satisfied with their level of flexibility. Employees with no ability to shift their schedules are 26% more likely to say they are burned out at work than those with moderate schedule flexibility.
Furthermore, a 2022 MGMA poll revealed that 29% of medical practice leaders cited flexible working schedules as key to retaining staff, second only to increasing wages, which was cited by 56% of leaders. Offering flexible working hours can be an effective strategy to reduce burnout in your RCM team.
Encourage Time Off
Encouraging employees to take time off is an effective way to boost their job satisfaction. Research shows that only 55% of Americans use all their paid time off. A common reason why employees don’t take as much time off is the perception that they could be passed up for promotions or be seen as not working hard enough. Address this concern by setting a good example yourself and reassuring employees that it is reasonable and even expected to take time off.
Improve Your Benefits
According to a 2022 MGMA poll, 45% of respondents added or expanded their practice’s employee benefits in the past year. The most common benefits included additions and improvements to paid leave offerings, wellness and employee assistance program (EAP) benefits, and increased employer contribution toward health insurance costs.
Additionally, Calm’s 2023 Workplace Mental Health Trends Report found that 67% of employees want their employer to provide mental health support. Improving benefits —- particularly mental health benefits —- can contribute to your team’s overall well-being and help them cope with work stress that can lead to burnout.
Facilitate Fair Workloads
Distributing work fairly promotes a balanced distribution of tasks among team members. This ensures that no one employee is overwhelmed with an excessive amount of work, which can lead to stress and, eventually, burnout. By ensuring that each team member has a manageable workload, you can help employees maintain a better work-life balance. This, in turn, enhances job satisfaction and boosts morale. When your employees aren’t overburdened, they’re more likely to be engaged and focused, leading to increased productivity and higher quality of work. Fair workloads also contribute to a more positive and collaborative work environment.
Solicit Ideas and Involve Employees in Decision-making
Just as engaged patients have better outcomes, so do engaged employees. A study on combined interventions to reduce employee burnout found that involving employees in decision-making can enhance their feelings of control and social support while eliminating stressors. Engaging employees in discussions and decision-making processes contributes to their sense of ownership and commitment. You can do this by implementing some of the following measures:
- Hold Regular Meetings: Conduct team meetings where employees are encouraged to share their ideas and feedback on various projects and initiatives.
- Use Surveys and Polls: Implement anonymous surveys or polls to gather employees’ opinions on specific topics or issues.
- Encourage Open Communication: Foster a culture where employees feel safe to speak up and ensure that leaders are approachable and open to receiving input.
- Involve Employees in Goal Setting: Include employees in setting team goals and objectives and encourage them to contribute to strategies for achieving them.
Let Employees Decide if They Want Hybrid or 100% Remote
While many employees want flexible working conditions, they don’t all necessarily want the same type of flexible working conditions. A survey found that 72% of employees reported exhaustion from working in a hybrid model, nearly double the figures for fully remote employees and also greater than those based fully in the office.
Remote work, however, is not for everyone. A report from Indeed revealed that 27% of workers have trouble unplugging from work due to remote work. On the other hand, a study from Ergotron found that 88% of employees agree that the flexibility to work from home or the office has increased their job satisfaction. So although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, allowing employees to choose their preferred working model, whether hybrid or 100% remote, can provide the best working conditions for your team.
Automate Manual RCM Workflows and Make Your Staff Happier with MD Clarity
Revenue cycle management is crucial to the financial health of healthcare organizations. However, the burnout of RCM professionals can negatively impact their performance, your bottom line, and, ultimately, patient outcomes. To combat this, one of the effective strategies is automation. MD Clarity offers a comprehensive solution to automate various RCM workflows. Incorporating automation in RCM not only streamlines the process but significantly reduces the workload on staff, which is crucial in mitigating burnout. By adopting MD Clarity's comprehensive solution, you can automate manual RCM workflows, make your staff happier, and enhance both the patient experience and your financial position. Reach out today to request a demo.