The PFX Voice

Christine Hanson-Ehlinger
Christine Hanson-Ehlinger


At Avadyne Health’s 2017 Market Roundtable, April York, Senior Director, Patient Finance at Novant Health, offered a glimpse into the organization’s progressive initiative to shift perspective to the patient experience and build a revenue cycle environment that centers patients as human beings.

Novant’s program revolves around a shift in perspective that centers the Human Experience and minimizes controllable suffering. To accomplish this, Novant has launched an ambitious and successful program that combines the strengths of their entire revenue cycle staff with broad input from other hospital departments to zero in on genuine emotional connection and translate that into tangible results.

“The Human Experience is not as transactional. Patients don’t want it to be as transactional. When they need us, they want to connect at an emotional level, and for finance folks, that can be challenging at times,” York said.


Discovering the Human Experience

Novant Health has taken on a challenge that holds the interest of the entire healthcare industry — How do you make the traditionally transaction-centered revenue cycle process into one that centers the complex and often painful patient experience?

“We were making assumptions that patients don’t want to pay — most patients do want to pay. They want to do the right thing. So, we set out to design process flows and options around that patient that wants to pay. We have a tendency to focus on the few versus the many,” York said.

Their solution? Moving beyond the patient experience to see patients as individuals, and as participants in a Human Experience.

For Novant, this has meant looking at other high-performing organizations in terms of value integration and acceleration and building out their own process. This process is founded on 30 workstream teams from all departments across the hospital system — everyone from nurses to corporate finance employees were tapped to build a diverse and complete perspective of the Human Experience.  

On a tactical level, it has meant drilling down with a laser focus on productive team-building, population health, optimizing tech and business intelligence, operational excellence and collaborative leadership.

To best understand their patients’ experiences, Novant has employed a secret shopper/Undercover Boss-like program using several people from their leadership team.


Key Takeaways

This session included deep insight into the challenging undertaking of revamping the revenue cycle process, something that Novant executed beautifully. The presentation highlighted the facts that:

  • A focus on organizational core strengths is crucial in connecting with the Human Experience.
  • Cross-team collaboration is foundational to making substantive change in any patient experience.
  • Patients want to be treated as responsible, educated participants in fulfilling their financial obligations.

It was clear from Novant’s dedication and investment in an involved process, that patient connection was, and continues to be a core priority in their work.


Reactions and Key Points of Interest

York’s presentation generated a tactical conversation that energized the audience and got questions around specifics flowing early. It was obvious that the topic connected well with the everyday pain points attendees experience. Some of the questions that arose included:

  • Were revenue cycle staff included in other workstreams teams?
  • How much information do different members of the revenue cycle team have access to?
  • What types of conversations are they encouraged to and permitted to have?
  • How much are vendors included in the information you learn throughout the process?

Were revenue cycle staff included in other workstreams?

Leadership engagement was a key point of interest and attendees were pleased to learn that leaders from multiple departments were deeply involved in all levels of the program execution.


How much information do different members of the revenue cycle team have access to? 

Questions also were raised around how customer service, the secret shopper program and front end are integrated, along with how work is segmented and how much staff is informed. The answer revealed a proactive approach to information sharing across all levels of the program.


What types of conversations are they encouraged to and permitted to have?

In that same vein, when it was asked who was permitted to have payment conversations, York revealed that it happens throughout the revenue cycle process, with all team members having access to robust past patient communications. “If you know a patients’ ability to pay very early on in the process then you know the conversation to have,” she added.


How much are vendors included in the information you learn throughout the process?

Insight into outsourcing was requested, with questions around sharing Human Experience insight with client-facing vendors. York explained that Novant does not currently employ this approach but believes that it would be a good idea as vendor partners would ultimately have the opportunity to impact the Human Experience as well.

It was clear that this presentation sparked attendee thought around new approaches to revenue cycle processes but also the level of planning and effort that goes into making substantive change around the patient experience.



Avadyne Health’s Market Roundtable brings together healthcare industry leaders to share in open discussions around the Patient Financial Experience through discussion with other revenue cycle C-suite peers from around the country.

The 2-day event focuses on emerging trends, sharing new thoughts and facilitating conversations around the Patient Financial Experience. Attendee collaboration builds insight into opportunities and barriers within the revenue cycle and uncovers new and impactful ways of improving the present and designing the future of the Patient Financial Experience.

Topics: Patient Financial Experience, Revenue Cycle Management