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      Healthcare RCM Trends: The Biggest Shifts from 2023 to 2024

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      The healthcare industry is a dynamic landscape, constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of both providers and patients. Providers are feeling the financial squeeze due to rising labor costs and deteriorating payer relationships, all while trying to deliver top-notch care.

      At the same time, patients want nothing less than a stellar experience when they seek care. It then becomes a balancing act for providers between financial sustainability, quality service and putting patients first.

      A way to get in front of this is by getting a better understanding of healthcare executives’ strategic priorities and investments as they can shed light on how to address these challenges to achieve long-term success.

      In FinThrive’s second annual RCM Transformative Trends Report, we surveyed 92 healthcare finance executives to gain insight into the goals they care about most in 2024 and investments they are prioritizing to achieve these goals.

      After conducting a comprehensive analysis comparing trends from the previous year to the current year, we have identified three crucial areas where strategies and investments experienced significant shifts.

      Less focus on reducing costs

      Traditionally, healthcare organizations could combat shrinking margins by simply increasing their revenue. But with revenue disappearing, especially post-pandemic, finance leaders were forced to place a greater emphasis on lowering expenses.

      So, it’s no surprise that in our 2023 RCM Transformative Trends Report, 65% of healthcare finance leaders cited reducing costs as a top strategic priority.

      One year later, however, that trend is moving in the opposite direction. Reducing costs, while still on the minds of many leaders, saw a significant drop year-over-year, in how many executives consider it a top priority for their organization.

      Reducing Costs by
      Net Patient Revenue (NPR)
      % of leaders
      % of leaders
      $1.1B to 2B 65% 50%
      $2.1B to 5B 73% 59%
      More than $5B 62% 50%


      Although healthcare costs are expected to rise by 7% in 2024, Kaufman Hall’s March 2024 National Hospital Flash Report noted that hospitals have seen improvements across operations and financial measures, signaling that many organizations are positioned to turn the page on survival mode and focus on driving revenue.

      Improving the patient experience rises as the #2 corporate objective

      Driven by many of the same factors as discussed in the shift of reducing costs, improving the patient financial experience was one of the biggest increases among healthcare finance leaders for 2024 top objectives.

      With the economy stabilizing and margins improving steadily throughout 2023, the tides are changing as organizations—particularly large health systems—shift focus from financial recovery to strategic growth initiatives, with a big focus on experience.

      In our recent study, 60% of executives, up from 48% in 2023, identified enhancing the patient experience as a key objective, ranking it as the second-highest priority among respondents. This shift signifies a move towards prioritizing superior patient care and loyalty over stringent cost-cutting measures observed in the previous year.

      Large organizations are adapting to the post-pandemic landscape by focusing on delivering exceptional patient experiences to secure and retain a larger share of patient interactions. Like the emphasis on cost reduction, these entities lead the transformation in finance leaders' attention towards enhancing the overall patient journey.

      Improving the Patient Experience by NPR 2023
      % of leaders
      % of leaders
      $1.1B to 2B 53% 63%
      $2.1B to 5B 32% 63%
      More than $5B 62% 70%


      To provide a better patient financial experience, here are some of the most common initiatives planned by executives:

      • Improve scheduling experience (60%)

      • Improve patient payment experience (55%)

      • Improve payment estimation accuracy (49%)

      icon-symbols-checkmarks  RELATED: The Healthcare Finance Leader’s Guide to Improving the Patient Experience

      Payer-provider relationships in the spotlight

      With denials on the rise, the provider-payer relationship has become increasingly strained, with 78% of hospitals and health systems reporting their experiences with insurers is getting worse.

      Leaders are placing a significantly greater emphasis on payer-provider collaboration in 2024 (38%), with more than double the focus compared to 2023 (16%). This 137% increase underscores the importance of this partnership.

      icon-symbols-checkmarks  RELATED: Denial Management Best Practices Guide

      To achieve this objective, industry leaders are exploring initiatives and leveraging technology to enhance the prior authorization process by implementing an electronic PA solution. Additionally, they aim to enhance clinical data sharing between all involved parties for improved efficiency and collaboration.

      There was also a notable uptick in plans to renegotiate payer contract rates for more favorable terms, jumping from 9% to 20% between 2023 and 2024. Despite rising rent, labor and supply costs and an increase in patient demands for attention and convenience, reimbursement rates remain stagnant at pre-pandemic levels. The jump suggests healthcare leaders see a near-term opportunity to improve contract terms in 2024.

      Want to see more of what your peers are prioritizing in 2024, including top planned initiatives and technology investments? Download our 2024 RCM Transformative Trends Report.


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