Partners Plans to Tame Financial Management Challenge with Soarian S/W Suite

Four years ago, Boston-based Partners HealthCare embarked on a strategic review of its patient administrative systems, including among other things, scheduling and billing. On July 30, 2007, Partners announced plans to adopt Siemens Soarian Financials, a full suite of applications designed to streamline revenue-cycle management and help manage costs through a patient-centric, workflow-driven approach.

“We operate in an environment characterized by an ever-changing payer rule set and we are constantly retraining our employees to comply with them,” said Richard Silveria, Partners corporate director of revenue and finance. “Siemens is a large player whose vision resonates with us.” Partners sought a system that could automate workflows and processes to help improve and sustain performance within revenue cycle processes.

According to Silveria, it took several years and consultants to identify a new system. Part of the challenge is Partner’s size and sprawl. It was founded in 1994 by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital and has grown to include community and specialty hospitals, community health centers, a physician network, and home health and long-term care services. The health care system includes approximately 5,000 physicians and has more than 1.5 million patient visits annually.

Streamlining the revenue cycle for this diverse group was an important part of Partners’ broad strategic initiative. Each payer has different rules and each entity within Partners had its own way of dealing with payer rules. Employees at the various entities needed to operate several information systems, requiring investments for maintaining and training on these multiple systems.

Silveria expects the entire Soarian Financials system will take seven to eight years to implement across Partners. This will include bringing a hospital or health care center live with the Soarian system, adapting the system to the various provider types, and then moving on to another entity within Partners. Because it’s a web- and workflow-based system, Silveria anticipates less training will be needed for employees. He also expects to see cost savings through better workflow, increased compliance with payer rule sets, and, decreased denial of payments by insurers.

Soarian Financials simplifies revenue management partly through an embedded contract engine and an enterprise-wide master person index (EMPI). The system should help Partners processes, and will support performance tracking against the organization’s financial goals through embedded analytics, which should direct work to the best person with the goal of improving efficiency, reducing denials, minimizing rebilling, and lowering administrative costs.

For patients, the process of setting physician appointments should be simpler and the billing less confusing. This is accomplished by using a system-wide program rather than the separate legacy systems at each hospital. Patients will be able to register at one Partners site and have their information available at all sites of care within the system. Partners is installing all the components of the Soarian Financials including Soarian Scheduling, Decision Support Solutions, Enterprise Document Management, Soarian Community Access, and Healthcare Data Exchange (HDX), Siemens’ payer connectivity service.

This Soarian suite selection builds on the recently announced collaboration between Siemens and Partners to advance service-oriented architecture (SOA) in health care information technology.

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