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Academy Trains Hopkins Staffers for the ‘Other Side’ of Health Care

Twelve-week course spotlights finance fundamentals.

If a hospital’s revenue cycle isn’t healthy, there can be no scientific breakthroughs, no lifesaving surgeries and no state-of-the-art medicine.

The Johns Hopkins Medicine Department of Finance is investing in the future by offering a 12-week course designed to teach Johns Hopkins Health System employees the fundamentals of billing, coding, collections and other financial functions vital to the well-being of the institution.

The Revenue Cycle Management Academy trains staffers in areas such as submitting insurance claims and collecting payments. In the weeks and months after the course, graduates can apply for open positions in the finance department, in hopes of putting their new training to professional use.

At a small ceremony last month to congratulate the first graduates of the academy, materials management director Colleen Cusick stressed the importance of employees who understand the intricacies of the revenue cycle.

“This is the ‘other side’ of the health care business,” Cusick told the group. “And it keeps Johns Hopkins in the business of health care.”

To be eligible for the academy, class members must work for the Johns Hopkins Health System and be recommended for the course by their managers.

A similar course offered by the Department of Finance provides Baltimore City residents with training in the Johns Hopkins Hospital supply chain. Desmond Jackson, senior director of revenue cycle and supply chain support, designed both courses to attract local residents and Johns Hopkins employees to career-oriented employment at the Johns Hopkins Health System.

Jackson says the Revenue Cycle Management Academy will soon be open to people not currently employed at Johns Hopkins.

‘A Game Changer’

Beginning in April, class members spent two days a week learning the ins and outs of the system by which the hospital gets paid for services provided to patients.

During their training, academy students shadowed people who work in the revenue cycle, studied course materials and heard guest lectures by Johns Hopkins Medicine leaders such as Marty Basso, chief financial officer of Sibley Memorial and Suburban hospitals.

Jackson says the commitment of time, both from employees and from their managers, is significant.

“These are valuable staff members in their departments,” Jackson says. “We appreciate the goodwill of their managers to allow them the time to train with us and, potentially, move on to a new role.”

Jaleesa Price, a patient services coordinator in Adult Dermatology, graduated from the academy and spoke at the ceremony, thanking her instructors, her classmates and her family for their support over the past months.

“For me, this was a game changer,” Price said. “It made me realize that I’m an asset in the workplace. It helped me decide that I want to go back to school and study project management.”

Musumba Chakamisa, who works in patient admissions, said he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the course. “But this academy shrunk the Johns Hopkins world for us,” he says. “It allowed us to meet people with different backgrounds from all across the system. That’s been very valuable.” Chakamisa added that the academy’s coursework would be useful to his career, regardless of what department he works in.

Out of 25 applicants, nine women and three men were selected for the first class.

Jackson says he was impressed by how seriously the class members took the instruction.

“This program meant more to the class members than I thought it would,” he says, noting that the group bonded around their three months of shared experiences. “They really demonstrated that they want to grow professionally. We’re glad to have been a part of that journey.”

The next Revenue Cycle Management Academy cohort begins in the fall. To learn more or to apply, please visit RCM Academy.

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