Business Analytics | 5 MIN READ

Driving Results With Gamification & Revenue Cycle Management

Serene Munroe
03/27/2019

The effect of real-time feedback on behavior is obvious if you’ve ever seen your vehicle speed flash on a roadside display board (Apply those brakes!) or tracked your steps or other health behavior on a mobile device. What could this mean for staff working in Revenue Cycle Management? Could similar mechanisms be effective in encouraging desired behaviors and rewarding achievements? How could this change a manager’s approach to challenges like staff retention in a complex environment that demands ever-improving productivity metrics?

An innovative healthcare system in San Diego is leading the charge by using real-time feedback to tackle tough challenges facing healthcare organizations today: increasing revenue cycle productivity while retaining good employees – especially millennials.

Giving employees feedback in real time is a key element of a “gamification” strategy adopted by Sharp HealthCare, San Diego’s leading healthcare provider. Sharp is applying components of gameplay (scoring, rewards, competition and rules of play) to its revenue cycle management (RCM) activities. The provider teamed up with Virence Healthcare (formerly GE Healthcare) to wrap RCM performance monitoring in a colorful user interface that encourages friendly competition and rewards increased staff productivity.

Employee/players get points for performing tasks, with more points assigned to more complex activities, tough times of the day or week, and challenging accounts. As they go about their daily work, players earn badges and other rewards (Wear jeans to work tomorrow!). All players, and managers, can see performance real-time in a bright, gaming interface complete with customized player avatars and hidden treasures.

Before developing the game application, Sharp HealthCare used analytics from their CentricityTM Business revenue cycle solution to understand current performance and identify areas for improvement. While the RCM group was high-performing, talent retention was a target area identified by Gerilynn Sevenikar, Sharp HealthCare’s Vice President of Hospital Revenue Cycle. According to an MGMA study of 65 provider practices, business operations and support staff turnover averages nearly 10%1. While turnover in Sharp’s revenue cycle department is less than 5%, turnover among millennials, who make up just over one-quarter of her team, accounted for 56% of turnover.

Ms. Sevenikar was inspired to try gamification because of her teenage daughter’s fascination with mobile game apps that reward players as they advance through levels of the game. She was looking both to better engage her employees and understand their performance.  Ms. Sevenikar was convinced that giving real-time feedback would help maximize RCM performance.

Here are key elements of this innovative solution:

1.Leaderboards to encourage friendly competition and show real-time standings.

2. Levels and badges to recognize accomplishments.

 

3. Rewards for desired performance, to reduce drift from gold standard workflow.

 

4. Manager dashboards to get insights into employee performance.

Launched just 6 months ago, already gamification is meeting Sharp’s goals to increase employee engagement while bolstering financial performance. Even during the pilot stage, the healthcare system saw an overall improvement in employee adherence to revenue cycle best practice in the pilot group resulting in the ability to reduce headcount by one full time employee (the pilot team asked their manager to not backfill an employee that transferred!).

Even more importantly, Ms. Sevenikar says, is the positive impact on employee engagement – especially millennials accustomed to using mobile apps. She sees real-time feedback, recognition and rewards as the most effective methods to motivate employees, regardless of age, and support her department’s low turnover rates. In addition, the transparency of using a shared game to monitor performance builds a culture of trust. An added bonus is that managers and employees can spend less time preparing for formal employee evaluations, because accurate performance data has already been captured by the game.

1 (Source: Healthcare Turnover Rates in 2018 )

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