Netsmart CareThreads
Netsmart CareThreads

Episode · 7 months ago

Maximizing Public Sector Budgets With Key Operational Strategies


COVID-19 has and continues to impact healthcare across the country, especially for public sector organizations. Many leaders are taking a closer look at operations to stretch their hard-hit budgets and do more with less. According to a recent study from NRI and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, the following are just a few pandemic-related data points impacting operations…

- 68% of all state mental health agencies experienced workforce shortages

- Telephone encounters increased by 365%

- Broadband access replaced transportation as the primary obstacle to care

In this episode of Netsmart CareThreads, Carol Reynolds, executive strategist for public sector at Netsmart, talked with Netsmart virtual CIO Danielle Ross and vice president of revenue cycle management operations Erica Gregory.

Here's what was discussed in the episode:

- How recent data is shifting operations

- The biggest operational challenges for public sector organizations

- Top operations management advice for strategic planning and creating operational health in your organization

This discussion with Carol Reynolds, Erica Gregory, and Danielle Ross was taken from our show Netsmart Care Threads.

If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple Podcasts.

If you don’t use Apple Podcasts, you can find every episode here.

Welcomed in that smart care, threads, apodcast were human services and postocute leaders across the healthcarecontinuum come together to discuss industry trends, challenges andopportunities. Listen is we uncover real stories about how to innovate andimprove the quality of care for the communities we serve? Let's get intothe show hello, everyone. Thank you for joining now, so I'm Caroll Reynoldshere at nutswird and I work with all of our state and county clients on aregular basis, trying to implement the strategies that drive better care andoperational efficiencies. Today we have a couple of experts from insideNatsmart to address some of the operational challenges that we knowmany of you are facing during this pandemic and this time of year, many ofyou are focused on business strategies and trying to determine your twothousand and twenty one and two thousand and twenty two approach. Ourhope is that our conversations today will give you some idea to better helpmaximize or stretch your hard hip budgets. So before we get started,though, I wanted to share some information with you from a report thatwas recently published. It was written by in our eye and done in associationwith the National Association of Statemental Health Program Directors,and it has some great stats on how some Covid is impacting the estateorganization. So they did this report in October of last year. They releasedthis and some of the stats from it are extremely interesting. They discuss howcovid nineteen has exasrerated existing challenges and the state systems, likesixtyigh percent of all statemental health agencies, have experienced workfor shortages. A hundred percent of statemental health agencies found theincreased flexibility and telle health...

...rules extremely helpful and would likethese floxibilities to be made permanent impatient capacity declined.It did decline due to several outbreaks at the state hospitals whichnecessitated halting admissions at some of those facilities. However, demandfor impatient services remain the same. Many of the impatient facilitiesimplemented a fourteen day, quaaty period, which was required for alladmissions and that had to take extra space within the facility as well asslowdown those admissions for community providers. Telephone encountersincreased by three hundred and sixty five percent. From January to June,video conferencing encounters increased by a hundred thirty seven percent andstate telahealth claims for state average went from fifteen hundredpermonth to forty five hundred per month. Half of all the claims in allthe states were from mental health services, and one good stat to just endon is the result of the use of telehealth encounters. Kept rates havegone up significantly from sixty percent prepandemic to ninety percentduring the pandemic, and for me I follow along on social determents ofhealth, all of the time for those that track on that the primary obstacleprepandemic was transportation, that's gone away now. The issue is broadbandaccess and affordability. All of these technology components play into theremaining part of the conversation. So there's no doubt that providers acrossthe country that you all of you are trying to look at things differently.The pandemic has for ever changed how we all run our businesses. So let meintroduce a couple of guests that we have with us today: Erica Gregory, I FPA rounocycle operations here at...

...nowsmited, she's joined by DanielleRoss Danielle is our virtual one of our virtual CIOS, who works with clients ona daily basis to help implement technology strategies that align withbusiness objectives, and I know they have both been extremely busy duringthis pandemic. So I have a few questions. I thought I would ask to getthe conversation going for both of you Erica and Aniele. Whatdo you think is the biggest challenge for public sector agencies regardingoperations at this moment in time, Hash Carroll? This is a great question.This is Erica, and I think you really hit on it with some of the statisticsthat you shared from the clients that I work with in public sector, one of thekey thenes that I've seen this year has absolutely been aligned with yourstatistic around resource shortages. So many clients that I work with today arelooking for creative solutions to solving what many times is a shortageof talent or do to some budget constraints, a lack of ability to fillopen positions or backfell resources that have left the organization. This,coupled with what the pandemic threwgh out us this year for a need for remotework. Many of our billing organizations and back offices uniquely have thecapabilities to be remote, but so many of my clients, weren't necessarilyprepared for that right out of the gate and so having resources, stretchd thinand maybe covering lots of additional areas and then having needing to takethat work. Remote created a lot of challenges for clients, and I think,while everybody's really stepped up to the plate and is finding creativesolutions. I know looking for...

...opportunities to bring in a partner tobe able to help you bridch. That gap has been important for our clients. Idon't know Danielle. Do you see something similar? I do. I absolutelyagree. The the resource challenge has been there and it was definitelymagnified as a result of covid hitting and what it's done is created both thechallenge, but also the opportunities for our public sector environment tolook at what they see as their options for their resoar structure. Erica. Wework in the world where we help organizations and partner with them tosolve those problems, and so one of the things that we've seen is a part ofthis kind of challenges. How do we leverage the resources that we havereally well? How do we look at resource gaps that we need to fill, and shouldwe do that through an internal strategy? Maybe through getting some help or dowe need to look at it really through a technology solution, that'll bridge thegap across the board- and it's been an interesting conversation to havebecause resource challenges is something that's going to continue on.But resource solutions is something that's starting to become a part of theactual conversation now and it's interesting it its not a let's gohigher more or let's magically find tons of people out there in the market.It's ironically, let's figure out how the best leverage, our internal staff,so that we can organize ourselves in a way that we're stable in that we canperform what we need to for our day to day. Let's also make sure that we coverany resource gaps that we have either through technology, automation orthrough other services, delivery that helps us round out our businessoperations. I think those are great points, especially on the resourceswhich was a big part of the study that was released by NRI. It actuallyreminds me of something that Netzmar did internally working with our clientswe created during this pandemic. New Option called no context schedulr, andI'm just talking about this because...

...scheduling people, a gardener says thatit takes about five minutes to schedule a conical appointment for an individual.That would mean a schedul or could only schedule about ninety five appointmentsin a day and it's crazy busy right now. Transferring that time for schedulingover to the individual consumer is really a big offering to help peoplewith that, resourcing that they're not investing so much in dozens ofschedulers but more on the clonicion side, based on the resources or lackterall what are some of the key strategies that you're seeing other public sectoragencies and leaders implement to Maximu Budgets and really do more withlass, I think tarrol. For me, this has been one of the most exciting piecesthat I've seen in the public sector this year in ther real interest inaddressing some of those actions for new strategies that haven't been lookedat before, and I've seen a lot of clients get very excited aboutopportunities for automation. The billing process is something thathistorically, for Tuwong has taken too many manual touches to make sure thatthat everything goes out correctly, and I really seen some of our public sectorclients adopt automation, opportunities with technology, whether it's takingadvantage of some new technology, an a clearing house or leveraging newreporting and analytics things that they were using resources. You knowsometimes hundreds of hours a month to be able to submit successfully or tracksuccessfully they're now using automation tools to do, and so itreally when you look at the resource shortages, finding ways how we work,smarter, not harder, is really becoming the conversation topic with our clients.Yeah, absolutely agree: I'm seeing people across the board that are, youknow looking at it from a financial...

...angle of what can we do to leverage theadvancements in technology to allow our billing to go out very straingline, avery in a corrected fashion that even what a human capability would have beendoing but they're also looking across the board of even in our servicedelivery models? What are we automating to allow our staff so that they candirect their attention towards client care? What are we automating that wetraditionally had to have all of these staff hands having to do all of thesedifferent pieces? And now we really need to focus in different areas, andso what we're seeing across t the scope of our public sector, communities andorganizations, is that they are looking at the technology tool as a portion oftheir overall staffing in plan for how they're actually going to continue torun their business operations. Because, as we talked about with a a struggle ingetting the actual skilled resources there, then the option is is hey. Wehave to be able to use the skilled resources we have, but to Erica's pointwe got to work smarter, not harder, so we've got to use people that we canmost effectively for the things that we need to be using them for so, ifthere's a technology solution that allows us to automate a process orstreamlinea process in such a way, so that it frees up a service deliverystaff or it flees freeze up people on the billing and operation side, thenthat's the direction that folks are moving and that's really the optionthat's available and should be the option that's available because Carrol,I think one of the things that you were talking about. There is really theinflux of Tella health and I've made the statement repeatedly that TelaHealth now is operational. It's no longer special. It's a part of ourservice delivery model. It's a part of our billing model. It's a part of ourstrategy for how we're going to deliver services, and so it's just an exampleof where our technology advancements is actually hitting at our ability toprovide services and make up for the fact that maybe we're struggling toresource all of these areas in the same...

...way we have in the past. I think somegreat points about opportunities for automation and and even usingelectronic health record cunctionality that you already have, and you alreadyown but Youve, just never really implemented to help fix areas that that really need the assistant. I knowpeople like specific, so Danielle and Erica. Do you think that there'ssomething that you could give a real live example of working with a clientout there and something that they were able to do successfully during thispandemic? Sure? So I'm actually working with a large client in California inone of the counties that is they here and that it's been one of theirstrategic items. That kind of hit during two thousand and twenty islooking at all of the operational functions that they are doing inidentifying areas of duplication areas where they have staff that are workingacross multiple systems that do not need to areas where they have multiplestaff, doing the same, identical things that are not necessary when they couldcentralize and use a technology solution to help facilitate a moreefficient process for them, and so diving in and really looking and takingkind of the chunks of the service delivery from access and intake toactual service delivery to contractor service delivery, all the way throughoperations and billing, and look at what they're doing, how they're doingit. What systems they're actually leveraging and whether or not thosesystems are actually matched to what their business need is today, not whatit was fifteen years ago and moving them forward to a sense to where everyperson? That's a part of that organization, understands very clearlywhat are things that they're supposed to be doing, how they're supposed to bedoing it and the things that they're letting the system handle for them? Sothey're? No longer keeping tons of separate paper and spreadsheets and allthe other types of things that people have kind of been doing that takes awayfrom their time and then the other item is technology. Advancements, puttingthings in place that help people see...

...real time data so that they canactually see people that are in the q waiting for services versus, dependingupon a large call tree or phone trede. That's coming in through an automationthrough a computer program or through self registration for services, andthen Carroll you hit on it earlier, and I said it before. The telehelph settingup the EMFRA structure necessary to continue to maint tell a help in such away that it's becoming the norm of the service delivery and not just somethingthat people are doing is extra. It's actually our go to method for gettingpeople connected to services and a qualified provider as quickly aspossible. Therefore, also impacting things like our weight list and otheritems that the public sector hase struggled with for some time andincreasing your opportunity to actually feel faster because you're gettingconnected to those individuals and getting them engaged in services and amuch faster pace than what we were before and, I think very similar to Daniel onthe billing side of the house. Our team has helped implement modimation toolswith clients that have really paid off to come to mind. For me, we work with alarge county in California and then also one in Texas that they were ableto implement these automation protocols with their submission of claims andtheir submission of eligibility, and so through this not only were they able toreduce the staff that was doing this work manually before, but by leveragingtechnology and automation to do it were capturing all of that data as a byproduct of what it's submitting, and so what this gives us is a really powerfulset of data analytics that helps us look at. Where are we having bottlenexs in our billing process, where we having avoidable errors that aredecreasing? Our incoming funds- and so we can hone in and look systematicallyat where are these denials and...

...rejections coming from where, where wepotentially leaving money on the table, and where do we have some potentialcoverage issues related to our consumers that we can address to helpserve our population better, but also put the organization and a much betterfinancial standing Bhut a great conversation and good reminders thatimpact all organizations financially clinically operationally. It is 't justin one layer and the reminders of it's a great time to relook at the areasthat maybe were even causing you issues prepandemic and just got magnifiedduring this pandemic. So I really appreciate the conversation. Thank youArica and Danielle for sharing your experiences with us and the things thatother organizations Trouhu the country are doing to Excel Asotway. Thank youCarol for including US and for all of our clients out there listening. Weappreciate you and appreciate all you'r doing through the your work that you'redoing is so important to all of us. Absolutely thank you Carol and thatsmart. We understand the challenges facing provider organizations. Our teamwill help you navigate changing value, based care models with solutions andservices that make person centered care or reality will equip you withtechnology and services that provide holistic, real time. Views of CareHistories that inform better decision making and better outcomes visit ustoday, an ntstcom Netsmart serving you, so you can serve others thanks forlistening to the Netsmart Care Threads podcast through collaboration andconversation, we can work together to make healthcare more connected thanever before and better support the communities we serve to ensure younever miss an episode. Please subscribe to the show in your favorite podcastplayer, if you use apple podcast, we'd love for you to give us a quick ratingfor the show, just HAP Tae Number of stars that you think the podcastdeserves until next time.

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