Kimberly Scaccia – Vice President of
Revenue Cycle, Mercyhealth Systems
(Wisconsin and Illinois)
Kimberly Scaccia has over 20 years of hands-on revenue cycle and financial management experience for hospital, physician, ancillary and skilled nursing providers. She is widely recognized for her accomplishments in redesign, process improvement, analytics and leadership. In this interview, Kimberly talks to me about her leadership style and the biggest standout moments of her career.
Getting Started In The RCM Domain
Kimberly started her career as a legal assistant. An organizational merger led her to an opportunity in finance and eventually to the revenue cycle team. At that time, in her role, she performed a range of functions such as registration, understanding coding, billing, and cash posting processes, as well as integration with electronic health records. Each function or role was learned with the goal of understanding the global umbrella of revenue cycle and how each position impacts another.
‘I had an amazing leader early on who made me do understand every one of the functions in the revenue cycle.’
This understanding allowed Kimberly to be in the position to obtain every dollar that is owed to her organization which in turn supports patient care. In her years in revenue cycle, this understanding also provided Kimberly with many opportunities to help others find their calling and excel in their career.
From a personal development perspective, Kimberly states that because revenue cycle management, reimbursement and healthcare technology are constantly changing, it makes every day challenging and exciting. The availability of new technology offers multiple opportunities to the healthcare industry such as RPA, natural language processing, analytics, and so much more.
‘We’re not replacing people, we are replacing mundane tasks so that the workers can then be freed up, and up-skilled for higher-level purposes. In healthcare, we are resource strained, so if I can take out mundane tasks and use people for their true skill sets, we are making a difference.’
Prior to her current role, Kimberly began her career in the revenue cycle in 200o. She worked in the industry for 10 years and in consulting for 10 years.
After being approached for a consulting job for a Meditech organization that was looking for a director for the revenue cycle in New Mexico Kimberly decided to give it a try. During her consulting career, she visited approximately 36 states and worked with all kinds of organizations in the revenue cycle from mid-size dental or physician practices to large healthcare systems, as well as various post-acute care organizations. In March 2020, Kimberly made the shift to Mercyhealth Systems as Vice President of Revenue Cycle. It was the culmination of her career.
Current Business Structure And Organization
In her current position at Mercy, a vertically integrated healthcare system, Kimberly oversees revenue cycle for six hospitals and approximately 700 employed physicians. The organization operates in the Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois markets and is building a new hospital in Crystal Lake, Illinois.
As part of her role, she oversees everything from scheduling, pre-registration, registration, patient financial services, hospital coding, and clinic coding. The Revenue Cycle department also includes billing, follow-up, everything in the back business office from customer service to managed care and denials. For all of these, Kimberly has approximately 400 employees that report to her across the different divisions in the two states.
Talking about the nature of work, Kimberly states that all their work is done on-shore with no plans of moving off-shore.
‘It all goes back to being able to manage your staff, being able to use your metrics and provide people a place that they want to be.’
Standout Moments As A Business Leader
For Kimberly joining Mercyhealth tops the list. She joined her new job just at the start of the pandemic and had to instantly overcome a variety of revenue cycle issues while creating a new remote working situation.
Other standout moments include implementing technologies and creating vendor partnerships that didn’t exist, bringing the organization’s AR Days down 36%, meeting and exceeding cash goals, and creating a team that is growing and transforming the way work is done.
From an organizational perspective, Kimberly believes that she and her team are creating one of the best revenue cycle organizations in the country. She mentions that they have been creating a new training team to reach partners remotely, on-site, and hopefully soon, across state lines. They are metric-driven while being dedicated to their mission of having a passion for making lives better, for patients and partners.
Overcoming Challenges Over The Years
The last two years have been quite challenging with the Pandemic, the great resignation, the great reshuffle, financial hurdles, supply chain hurdles, all of it. The last two years have been focused on technology, staffing, hiring and retraining but Kimberly believes some of the biggest challenges are going to be the major regulations that are coming down in the revenue cycle.
There are massive government regulations that are coming out for hospitals that are completely unattainable. Rules and regulations that ask for almost impossible things as there are no tools or technology available to do it. For instance, being able to tell a patient, before they receive a service, exactly every single dollar they’re going to owe.
For this to happen, insurance companies need to provide real-time information in the same format from every payer, and the government would need to review the HIPAA Rules that were put in place 20 years ago and revise them for information sharing purposes.
‘The problem is the government is trying to regulate healthcare, but they are not regulating the payers who have all the money, and we are in a constant battle to obtain the pennies on the dollar that we are owed.’
Business Plans For Growing The Business
Kimberly states that growth is already underway as they are building a new hospital in Crystal Lake, Illinois which is scheduled to open in spring 2023. Additionally, there are a lot of new service lines or specialties being planned throughout the organization. As an organization, Mercyhealth is looking to avoid adding to the current overhead administrative expenses. This shifts the focus to optimize and automate the work being done and to empower the partners to make an effective change.
Top Philosophies And Core Values In Business
Kimberly believes it is important for people to always question why they are doing something and its impact. Instead of simply repeating tasks, reflecting on the ‘why’ can lead to an innovative approach. Another philosophy is accepting automation. If a task can be automated, then people can be free to provide a higher-value service to the organization.
‘I want people to be challenging themselves, to be making the right decisions, to be pushing forward, and always pushing that envelope to be better.’
Advice For Newcomers Entering The Revenue Cycle Field
Networking is invaluable. People should update their LinkedIn, reach out to professional organizations like ACHE, HFMA, HIMSS, connect with people, go to events and attend presentations.
‘Learn, connect and grow. You never know who you’re going to meet that you will potentially need in the future or who may need you.’
Another piece of advice is to read something every day, every week. It can be about anything: finance, technology, analytics, personal development, banking, politics, anything. Pick up a book or a newspaper or subscribe to the wall street journal and read.
‘It’s good to keep your mind constantly moving even if you disagree with whatever it is you are reading, at least you’re looking and listening to an opinion.’
Vision For Future Of The Industry
Kimberly’s vision is to be the best revenue cycle in the country. She wants Mercy to be the place that people want to work while feeling empowered, enabled and know their career growth is her priority. This will make her team the highest performing revenue cycle in the country.
For companies and professionals looking to remain successful in this domain, Kimberly says that aside from large government challenges, it is important to meet the employees where they want to be met.
‘In order to be successful, you have to be able to accommodate employees in a way that they feel valued and engaged at work. Without this, people are going to feel disengaged and they’re just going to go somewhere else – because they can.’
Leadership Lessons Learned Throughout Life
‘The biggest leadership lesson that I have ever learned is never burn a bridge.’
Another leadership lesson is to constantly be willing to continue to learn. Kimberly states that she does not want to be the smartest person in the room but instead surround herself with people who know a lot about things that she does not. This is what makes a team great and helps everyone grow.