“Now that remote work has become the norm; we can seize opportunities created by technology and be fully informed by productivity and worked-time measurement.”



In March 2020, the nature of how Patient Financial Services (PFS) worked changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 emergency; revenue cycle departments sent most if not all, staff home. By early April 2020, more than 90% of staff worked remotely full-time.

Like other industries which shifted to a remote model, leaders and staff immediately recognized the early benefits. We embraced the flexibility of work/life balance and adopted existing and new technology to maintain team dynamics and a sense of camaraderie. The changes resulted in more productive time due to less cross-cubicle chat, break room visits, and water cooler time. The essential aspects of these interactions moved to technology-aided solutions like virtual huddles, impromptu chats via tools like Slack, and scheduled remote one-on-ones.

acclara business revenue cycle associates

The novelty wore off, and by March 2021, staffing issues began to surface. Home priorities started to supersede minimal work expectations. Remote work created significant options for staff to shop their skills to a broader geographic area or move into desired roles unavailable to them in their existing position. And it wasn’t just happening on the provider side, as payers followed a similar staffing path.

Now, the longer-term effects of these changes are causing deterioration in several ways:

Fewer accounts are being worked on due to a backlog with short-staffed payors.

Workarounds, like chat technology, were introduced but not improved upon.

A significant lack of person-to-person interaction as individual payor reps have been replaced, causing a breakdown in those crucial relationships.

Getting Back to Pre-COVID Results

How can a PFS team with a strong leader get back to pre-COVID results? From years of experience and many conversations with PFS leaders, I suggest the following strategies:

Evaluate where you and your team are on the spectrum.

Are you hitting those Pre-COVID KPIs? Engage your team to return to basics. Refrain from being thwarted by payor excuses and long hold times.

Utilize real-time productivity tools.

Like you, adjusting to my remote routine took me some time. Now that remote work has become the norm; we can seize opportunities created by technology and be fully informed by productivity and worked-time measurement. You may have a Legacy System (i.e., Epic, Meditech, Cerner Reporting) in place or need to find a new solution. The tools are out there, and you can find one that balances trust and loyalty with staff while ensuring standards are met.

Engage the payors.

The current standard is not cutting it regarding your organization’s benchmarks. We all must find ways to develop and maintain strong relationships with payors. And the next great relationship starts with you. Recognizing the patient as the central denominator is the perfect place to start.

There will be no wholesale return to the office. But there are ways to regain balance and make remote work the new gold standard for leaders and staff. Empower your team with trust and clear expectations, embrace technology solutions, and continue building relationships that serve your organization and patients.