Health Care Finance
Financial analyst Eric Feigenbaum (2009) notes that while we like to think of hospitals in terms of compassion, patient care and dedication to altruistic aims, they are businesses concerned with revenues and expenses like any other business (Feigenbaum 2009, p.2). In today's hectic world of economic downturn and financial struggles felt from individuals of every demographic and social status, revenue and expense accounting are issues that must be addressed carefully by nearly every business in every market. The same holds true for the health care industry and health care providers. With financial uncertainty come threats for health care providers in managing revenue and expenses during the upcoming years. However, with these threats remain certain opportunities for health care providers to take on in order to combat the uncertainty that comes with managing revenue and expenses when the amount of each is not ideal.
With the appropriate management techniques, the flow of revenue -- whatever the amount -- can affect not only how patient care is delivered but how the hospital or care facility itself is viewed by the public. Therefore, hospital administrators in charge of financial maneuvering must work diligently under the radar to ensure that these revenues and expenses are managed properly in order to maintain their hospital's welfare and financial security. In today's market, the uncertainty of the economy has taken a massive toll on economic status, the economy is still in a state of disrepair. With unemployment up and insurance coverage down, the economy proves to be the health care industry's greatest monetary threat, and it is crucial that health care administrators grasp every opportunity to take in revenue that presents itself.
Managing Revenue and Expenses
Notes that even though the economic recession has been deemed over by the government, "entities will continue to struggle to find the revenue needed to support critical services like health care and human services" (Johnson, McNichol & Oliff, 2011, p.54). In assessing this statement as a threat to health care finance, health care providers must instead look to manage revenue and expenses not through money provided by the government, but with careful management of several key areas that affect hospital revenues and expenses.
While there are many factors that impact a hospital's revenue and expenses, there are several areas that affect every hospital across the board in terms of its monetary flow, including the number of patients, their insurance providers, the types of services a hospital offers, and the frequency of use of different services, all of which present an opportunity to bring in revenue and manage expenses more carefully than in recent years (Russell, 2006, p.219).
In terms of revenue, most hospital revenue comes from billing for patient care services. However, with the threats to this revenue brought about by unemployment, this revenue can now be hard to attain. Author Steve Twedt (2011) notes,
"With lingering unemployment, which increases the number of patients unable to pay their bills, added to decreases in Medicaid reimbursement, hospitals and health systems face a daunting and still unpredictable financial future" (Twedt, 2011, p.C1).
This glitch in revenue will prove a significant blow to hospitals across the country for the next several years at the least. However, there are certain tactics hospitals can use to open up the opportunity for revenue in times of crisis such as utilizing the option for flexible payment arrangements for patients that can aid to improve a hospital's bottom line. Dr. Bill Bristow (2009), partner in Doctors Management and contributor to Doctor's Digest, notes…
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