They say that in times of crisis, you get to know who your real friends and partners are. This adage gained new significance for Triad Radiology Associates earlier this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic upended its operations and Healthcare Administrative Partners (HAP) stepped up to help guide the practice through this unpredicted disruption.
In this Imaging Wire Q&A, we sat down with Darlene Clagett, Director of Revenue Cycle Management at Triad Radiology Associates, and Rebecca Farrington, Chief Revenue Officer at Healthcare Administrative Partners, to discuss their partnership and how it evolved during the COVID-19 emergency.
The Imaging Wire: You’ve been working with Healthcare Administrative Partners (HAP) for over two years. Can you share a bit about how your revenue cycle management operations improved since you started working with them?
Darlene: We looked at multiple revenue cycle vendors during our evaluation process. Our process was very thorough because we wanted a partnership that would sustain us through whatever challenges might come our way. At Triad we have invested in our leadership, our employees, and our technology, and we wanted a revenue cycle partner that made those same investments.
We feel like we have a true partnership with HAP. We communicate frequently and work together to consistently improve our metrics. We have seen improvement in many areas. Coding accuracy is much better, fewer days in AR, fewer denial write-offs, reconciliation of services to charges is managed monthly, and net collections has increased.
The Imaging Wire: The pandemic has caused unique challenges that have never been experienced by private independent radiology groups. Did you look to Healthcare Administrative Partners to add value beyond their standard services? Can you talk about what they did above and beyond a normal revenue cycle scope of service?
Darlene: It became immediately evident that the pandemic was having a dramatic impact on radiology practices and their revenue cycle partners, as volumes reduced significantly with stay at home orders.
From the beginning, HAP kept us updated regarding their ability to maintain operational excellence, while protecting their staff by quickly moving to a virtual environment. They had the IT infrastructure in place to ensure that processes were executed securely.
We requested estimated cash flow projections to assist us in planning and applying for relief programs and these were provided promptly. HAP also kept us apprised of relief program updates as they were happening and provided recommendations for methods to apply. In a couple of instances, they gave us advice and prompt updates that made the difference in our ability to receive relief funds.
The Imaging Wire: Rebecca, RCM scope of services are typically the nuts and bolts of the billing process. When the pandemic began, were you concerned about how you would be able to support your clients’ new challenges?
Rebecca: The short answer is yes. As a small business ourselves, we had to find the right resources to guide our decisions around ensuring our financial security as well as doing our part to protect both the safety and the financial impact of our employees. It also quickly became clear that our clients could benefit from our research and connections.
The easy thing to do would have been to “stay in our RCM lane” and do nothing – but that is the difference between a vendor and a true partner. It was not necessarily in our scope of service to advise on financial matters involving small business loans, but these are unprecedented and confusing times that called for new and different action on our part. There is an accountability and a responsibility that comes with making recommendations like these, so we did not take the decision to share them lightly. We did our homework, double-checked our resources, brought in our experts, and did our best to step up for our clients.
The Imaging Wire: Now that imaging volumes are ramping up, how are you working with HAP to prepare for the post-COVID rebound?
Darlene: HAP has played an integral role in helping us plan for the return to our pre-COVID revenue numbers. They have done a great job helping us build out revenue projections, which has helped with our staffing plans. They also provided guidance on PPP programs to help fill the revenue gap as volume improves. HAP now provides us with current weekly volume comparisons to pre-COVID dates so we can see how we are progressing in our return to previous numbers. They have also shared data so we can compare our rebound to that of our peers. This benchmarking is critical to revenue planning.
The Imaging Wire: When you made the decision to change RCM partners, you underwent a very detailed evaluation of the market and available options. After your experience with HAP these last two years, what recommendations do you have for groups that are beginning the process of considering an alternative to their current RCM set up?
Darlene: Any radiology practice considering RCM partners should prepare a detailed Q&A for their RFP so that they ask the same questions to each company. It’s also important to request involvement in the process from the people you will work with day to day.
Practices need to decide what they are looking for and make sure they are comfortable that their selection can provide it. We wanted a partner that would function as “our” billing department with dedicated staff to handle Triad. We are very pleased with the decision that we made and the great job that HAP is doing for us.
The Imaging Wire: Rebecca, you said that HAP acts as a true partner to your clients, not just a vendor. What does partnership mean to you?
Rebecca: Partnership is a two-way street. It is a relationship that is mutually beneficial and supportive, setting both parties up for success. It means stepping up and doing what you need to do to help, not because you have to, but because it is the right thing to do. Our client’s success is our success.
About Triad Radiology Associates:
Triad Radiology has supported the Piedmont Triad, North Carolina area with high-quality imaging and radiology services for over 50 years. Triad’s 45 diagnostic and interventional radiologists, state-of-the-art technology, and patient-centric approach assure that its patients can get the care they need and get back to the important things in life.
About Healthcare Administrative Partners:
Healthcare Administrative Partners (HAP) empowers hospital-employed and privately owned radiology groups to maximize revenue and minimize compliance risks despite the challenges of a complex, changing healthcare economy. HAP goes beyond billing services, delivering the clinical analytics, practice management, and specialized coding expertise needed to fully optimize revenue cycles. Since 1995, radiologists have turned to HAP as a trusted educator and true business partner.