We have a lot of data, ideas, and input. Now, how do we turn it into actionable information? I’m looking forward to proposing solutions, and working with the practices to achieve results, whether it is growing people, collecting more cash, or spending less effort on time-consuming tasks. Results are what really drive me.
Sharon Fremer, Strategic Radiology’s new vice president, revenue cycle optimization, is on a heat-seeking mission for results. Fresh from her first session with business analytics director Dave Polmanteer, she is preparing to bring 30 years of experience in revenue cycle to bear on improving member practice finances.
“We have a lot of data, ideas, and input,” she notes. “Now, how do we turn it into actionable information? I’m looking forward to proposing solutions, and working with the practices to achieve results, whether it is growing people, collecting more cash, or spending less effort on time-consuming tasks. Results are what really drive me.”
With extensive experience in reimbursement improvement and receivables reduction, Fremer has broad knowledge of all stages of revenue cycle management, including transcription, coding, billing, collections, account management, technology implementation, and patient communication. She has served at the executive level for Precyse Solutions, Medaphis Physician Services, Cardinal Health, and RevenueMed. Most recently, Fremer was engaged by Alpharetta, Ga.-based IPG, Inc, which provides surgical cost management solutions.
Expect to hear from her during the next several months as she works to capture, analyze, and share key indicators related to revenue cycle with the practices. She will collect individual practice details, review relevant differences, and propose best practices. Optimization recommendations will be developed after careful consideration of unique practice characteristics, contracts, payer mix, and internal and external resource and technology options.
Path to SR
Fremer cut her teeth out of college as a billing manager for hospital-based physician practices, including radiology, at Medaphis Physician Services. Over the subsequent five years, she was promoted to manager, director, and ultimately moved from Pittsburgh to the corporate headquarters in Atlanta as a VP to lead a standardization initiative.
As an aggregator of physician billing services, Medaphis had grown to 5,000 employees performing billing services on over a dozen different billing software, and Fremer was charged with overseeing the development of billing best practices and the design and implementation of a front-end software application that would integrate all of the back-end billing companies.
“Our goal was to get to what appeared to be a single platform for data entry, coding, and all of the document storage,” Fremer recalls. “Even though there were different systems receiving and storing the information our software was sitting on the front of it so that we could capture standard information, streamline processes, and develop operational best practices and feed it back into the individual billing systems. The goal of that was to have centralized processing centers for data entry, coding and billing instead of disparate processes across 500-plus locations.
Ultimately, Medaphis was purchased by yet a larger aggregator (McKesson), but Fremer learned valuable lessons in the process that proved useful in future endeavors. The first lesson was to stay laser focused on immediate results when developing processes and software.
“You’re never going to please everybody, so you need to know what truly are the developments that have to occur to get the results fast and not be muddied by what everyone thinks they want,” she relates. “When you are developing something, whether a technology or a process, go for the low-hanging fruit that will have the biggest impact with the least amount of effort. Otherwise you are eternally in development.”
Lesson number two was understanding that when you are implementing technology or processes with many inter-related functions—e.g. data entry, coding, billing, collections—design your approach to be mindful of the interdependencies, data use, and process flow across all functions to minimize re-work and maximize results.
Family, Pastimes Fremer resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband (and childhood sweetheart), two daughters (one a sophomore at Georgia Southern, one a junior in high school), and recently added two Yorkies to the family. Her leisure activity is focused mainly on quality time and fun with her family, but she does partner with her husband in an occasional mixed doubles tennis game and finds time to volunteer helping to feed 60 needy families in her county on the weekends.
For inspiration, she looks to people. “I thrive on learning and meeting new people,” she says. “There are so many things you can learn about life and about people if you listen.”
She is most excited about digging into the revenue cycle weeds at SR practices, understanding the needs of our members, and stepping back to determine the best strategic options for our practices. “I am looking forward to being able to develop that strategic vision of where we are going and then building a short-term and long-term plan to get there,” she enthused.
Hub is the monthly newsletter published for the membership of Strategic Radiology practices. It includes coalition and practice news as well as news and commentary of interest to radiology professionals.
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