Laurie Hurwitz – Senior Vice President
Revenue Cycle, OSF HealthCare
Laurie Hurwitz is based out of Peoria, Illinois, United States and works at OSF HealthCare as Senior Vice President of Revenue Cycle Management & Managed Care. As a problem solver, Laurie believes this field suits her talents well as, in revenue cycle management, change is constant. Her passion and expertise lie in enhancing the performance of the organization, to benefit every person involved be it an employee, provider, or a patient while overcoming the constant pressures of the changing rules and regulations. In this interview, Laurie talks to me about her journey in this domain and her vision for the future.
Starting Out In The RCM Domain
Laurie began her career as an accountant, moving into a controller function and then the CFO of a federally qualified health center. Her responsibilities there included all things finance even though they were not termed as revenue cycle management at the time.
She then moved on to another organization, and even though it was not for the revenue cycle, the firm hoped to leverage her expertise in both Finance & Revenue Cycle Management in a Decision Support role. Laurie found that she enjoyed understanding how complex systems work, how the different pieces work with each other and was good at prioritizing the order in which the work was supposed to be done.
‘Entry-level positions are very important, and they are not necessarily very highly regarded. I wanted to get better results for the organization, and I also wanted to have optimal working conditions for the team.’
The aspect that keeps her most attracted to this domain is the feeling that the work she does is important and contributes to something that is larger than herself. Laurie believes that a properly functioning revenue cycle helps support the mission of any organization.
‘In revenue cycle, something is always changing, and it is almost never something that is positive or makes anything easier, and I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how best to manage and still get optimal results.’
Prior to working at OSF, Laurie was at Gundersen Health System, a medium-sized health system with its headquarters in La Crosse Wisconsin. She was responsible for revenue cycle, regulatory compliance, cost reports and managed care contracting.
Current Business Structure And Organization
Laurie joined OSF HealthCare in 2018 and is the senior vice president of revenue cycle and managed care, leading a team of about 1,400 people. Those involved in patient access and the registration function operate out of the Ministry’s 15 hospitals and outpatient locations.
The rest of the team such as the coders, billers, financial counselors, and the financial clearance team have the option to work remotely or in the RC administrative building in Peoria, allowing everyone to work from one location.
With OSF being a major player in the industry, Laurie states that one factor that sets the organization apart from the rest is patient focus. The first job for the team is to be an advocate for patients in a very complex, confusing process that most of them do not understand.
Laurie says some functions in the revenue cycle can be too complicated to rely only on in-house expertise even in a large organization like OSF. For this, they have relationships with vendors to help them with specific tactical things.
Standout Moments As A Business Leader
While there have been many, for Laurie, turning around the revenue cycle department at OSF tops the list. The department was struggling and not producing the results needed. Laurie helped bring the account receivables down from 83 days to 49 days, which while not the best, was a huge milestone compared to the company’s performance.
‘Seeing that people believed we could do better, we could get results and watching them feel good about themselves, proud about their accomplishment and confident that we can continue to make additional much needed improvements, that for me was a great day.’
Another moment was several jobs ago when Laurie mentioned to the physicians in the oncology practice to consider financial counseling. At the time, the physicians were against talking about money to a patient diagnosed with cancer. However, Laurie believed that the news of cancer also brings in financial dread for the patient and as the caregivers, it was their duty to help patients with financial resources and alternatives. The physicians agreed and the process became widely accepted because it was what patients wanted.
‘We owe it to the patients to talk to them about that and tell them that about the resources and get them past that, so that they can worry about getting well instead of worrying about the financial part which is a huge part for oncology patients.’
Overcoming Challenges Over The Years
Laurie feels that most people do not understand how complicated the revenue cycle is. The regulations for this industry include both national and state. Further, there are aspects of CMS, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, and all the commercial payors on contract.
For instance, Blue Cross has an HMO product and a PPO product with all different benefit designs and new networks, and hundreds of other things. The rules change every month and regulations get difficult to administer, and patients don’t necessarily understand all of the financial aspects.
Top Philosophies And Core Values In Business
As a leader, Laurie prefers to teach someone to do something than to always tell them what to do. This may take more effort in the beginning, but it certainly is well worth it in the end.
Next, Laurie believes that the best way to tackle problems is to identify the root cause, prioritize them, and then segment them into manageable parts instead of attempting to attack all of the issues at once.
Prioritizing everything by dollar impact and by volume is crucial for success. Dollar impact because it helps pay for services provided or additional resources that might be needed, and volume because that creates a capacity to do additional work without needing more resources.
Advice For Newcomers Looking To Start A Career In RCM.
From Laurie’s perspective, it is important to be well-informed and understand how one part fits into everything else. The revenue cycle is a very big thing. It is important to understand what the political climate is, what likely regulatory changes are coming, and what OIG enforcement looks like, among other things.
‘It is important to think a couple of levels above where you are and really understand not just your part, but how your part fits into the much bigger revenue cycle and then talk to everybody that you can, pick their brains all the time.’
Vision For The Future Of The RCM Industry
Automation has been a hot topic for a while and Laurie believes that automation hasn’t lost the gains that they had hoped that it would. Over time, the industry is going to look at the tools available to automate high volume redundant tasks and leave the tasks that require strategic thinking in order to solve for the people to do. This, according to Laurie, may wind up meaning that people will begin to find more value in their work and enjoy it more and if it gives better results, that’s a win-win.
For organizations and professionals looking to remain successful in the RCM domain, Laurie advises to never forget one’s core principles, no matter what is happening.
‘If you have got an approach that works, keep doing that, be willing to be flexible and adapt, but don’t let the chaos create a swirl that you cannot get yourself back out of. You just have got to stay focused, always a laser focus.’
Leadership Lessons Learned Over The Course Of Life
Always be humble, don’t assume you are the one who has all the answers; if you are, you don’t need anybody else. Even though you have got big things to do, you still have to be kind.
Follow Laurie Hurwitz On : LinkedIn