October/November 2005

Migration Benefits Market-Based Organizations, Patients

As more market-based organizations migrate information technology (IT) and patient financial services functions to Catholic Health Initiatives’ central business offices and National Information Technology Center (NITC), the market-based organizations and patients benefit from consolidation of these essential services. “The consolidation of these services supports a more tightly integrated operating model and leverages Catholic Health Initiatives’ size and expertise,” said Michael Rowan, chief operating officer of Catholic Health Initiatives. The consolidation of services at the NITC makes system-level expertise available to market-based IT staff for planning, application support, training, disaster recovery and other essential functions. “We provide many types of support to the market-based organizations, including product-level expertise; a 24-hour-a-day customer service center; and the ability to leverage our national presence with software suppliers,” said Debbie Rieger, vice president of information technology for Catholic Health Initiatives. Market-based employees say that the NITC staff helps achieve smooth conversions to Meditech applications and provides product-level expertise. Jason Ewing of Mercy Medical Center, Nampa, Idaho, recently thanked NITC staff for assistance in launching Meditech’s Operating Room Management module. “They kept us organized, gave us direction and provided great leadership,” said Ewing. Rieger anticipates that the NITC will be able to provide more value to marketbased organizations over time. “As we start to work directly with more of the market-based organizations, we can help them learn from each other and achieve many efficiencies in their local operations,” she said. Catholic Health Initiatives’ central business offices are designed to manage the processing of patient accounts, giving market-based staff more time to help patients. “We take care of things that can be standardized and automated so that our facilities’ patient finance professionals can focus more on personalized service and support for their patients,” said Peter Savini, vice president of revenue cycle management for Catholic Health Initiatives. “They can counsel patients about their accounts and help them find financial resources.” Currently, central business offices are located in Exton, Pa., and Nampa, Idaho. At Mercy Medical Center in Nampa, migrating patient financial services to the central business office there has resulted in lower costs. “Our costs as a percentage of net patient services revenue have gone down .2 percent since fiscal year 2003,” said Joseph Messmer, president and chief executive officer of Mercy. “We have excellent communication and accountability between our hospital and the central business office. We’ve had no patient complaints about untimely billing, and our days in accounts receivable is the lowest in 20 years.” Catholic Health Initiatives has announced that a new central business office will open in Fargo, N.D., next year. This central business office will serve marketbased organizations in North Dakota and Minnesota beginning in January 2007. “The true measure of success in the central business offices is our ability to work alongside our facilities to effectively serve our patients,” said Savini. “We appreciate the expertise that each set of employees brings to patient financial services, and this strategy seeks to optimize that expertise at both the facilities and the central business offices.” Benefits of Migration The migration of patient financial services functions to the central business offices and information technology functions to the National Information Technology Center creates a number of important benefits.
  • It contributes to the growth of Catholic Health Initiatives as a tightly integrated health care system.
  • It allows market-based staff and resources to focus on patient care, patient access to health care, patient financial counseling and community specific needs.
  • It leverages expertise to reduce variation in processes and practices and shares operational costs.
  • It streamlines the revenue cycle and improves market-based organizations’ ability to respond to legal, regulatory and environmental challenges.
  • It provides a consistent platform for building leading practices.
  • It allows integration of these functions with the goals of CHI Connect and Catholic Health Initiatives’ overall Information Management Plan.