A Friendly Wager Results in an Outstanding Accomplishment

Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, UTMB Health System

I have always been a competitive person. When faced with a challenge, my adrenaline starts pumping, and I work very hard to exceed the goal or win the competition at hand. My younger brother has always joked that everyone should step aside when I am focused on accomplishing something. I always tell him that as we grew up, I had an opportunity to hone my leadership skills on him and my younger sister. Every time, he replies that I was just bossy! I am pretty sure we will never resolve this lively debate!

Everyone responds to challenges differently. At times, some may not feel up to the task of the challenge and instead of taking it on, try to blend in. Meanwhile, others will not only take on the challenge, but greatly exceed it. The latter is exactly what happened in April with the UTMB Health Revenue Cycle Operations Team.

At the end of March, Suman Smith, vice president for Revenue Cycle Operations, and I put forward a challenge to the 325 members of the revenue cycle team: if they met the cash goals for both Physician Billing and Hospital Billing plus collected an additional $5 million in cash, they could wear flip-flops and work-appropriate shorts or capris (with the exception of individuals who might be seen by patients and visitors). In turn, I would come to Shearn Moody Plaza for a day in May and work alongside them in my capris and flip-flops.

As I monitored the progress of the daily cash reports, it became clear that I would soon be dusting off my flip-flops. The results the team achieved were simply stunning. As of April 30 at 11:59 p.m., the team had collected $8.7 million more than the April goal! At midnight that evening, I got up, found my flip- flops, put them on my kitchen counter and took the photo below, sending it to Suman Smith to share with the staff.  Flip-flops it is for me on May 30 and I could not be happier about it!

In many revenue cycle circles, the mantra is “cash is king”. Why is this cash so important? The funds generated by the Faculty Group Practice and the Health System are what enable UTMB to hire the people we need to do the many important jobs at UTMB; it directly supports our threefold mission of education, research and patient care; and it contributes to our ability to build the new state-of-the-art facilities we must have in order to fulfill each mission area.

In short, the work that the Revenue Cycle Operations team does is critical. We can see all the patients we want and bill all we can, but without the people of the revenue cycle team to do medical coding, send out bills and collect payments due, we would not be able to continue our business and meet our mission.

This recent accomplishment of the revenue cycle team is an example of how we can truly make a difference at UTMB through teamwork and by working together to work wonders! Please take a moment to congratulate them the next time you see them!