It’s a good, strategic time to reflect on the past year and evaluate how your hospital or health system performed over the previous 365 days.

One area of particular interest to financial leaders in the healthcare space is the annual performance of your organization’s revenue cycle—the lifeblood of your organization. Without controlling expenses, billing, and collecting patient payments efficiently, your revenue cycle can get bogged down with delayed reimbursements and increased costs, ultimately hurting your liquidity and profitability.

If you’ve noticed that your revenue cycle management (RCM) was lacking over 2015, or inefficient compared to previous years, then 2016 is the year to take back control of your revenue cycle.

But you’re not alone. There are actually a number of tools available all created with the intention of simplifying your RCM and improving the efficiency of your hospital or health system.

1. Content Management Tools

First, one of the largest hidden expenses that hospitals and health systems see lies in their content management processes. The average employee uses about 130 lbs. of paper annually, and the average executive spends about 6 weeks simply searching for missing documents. As these statistics indicate, paper-based document management can often impact your organization’s efficiency, ultimately hurting the overall performance of your revenue cycle.

However, by imaging and indexing your paper documents into a web-based store house or into an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system, you’ll not only reduce paper-related costs, but increase the operating efficiency of your staff, as they’ll be able to find the documents they need more quickly and easily.

Additionally, investing in content management tools enables organizations to mitigate risk when in comes to compliance and improve the patient experience when it comes to timely service, both improving your RCM. It’s also poignant to note that 42% of organizations achieve a payback period of 12 months or less after investing in scanning and capture tools.

2. Electronic Medical Record (EMR)

In addition to utilizing content management tools to increase staff productivity and decrease costs, investing in an Electronic Medical Record—or Electronic Health Record—can also improve efficiency and patient care, monetizing in an improvement of your RCM.

Some EMRs offer features like automated patient reminders, which reduce patient no-shows allowing physicians to spend time more efficiently. Additionally, by documenting the patient’s visit in an EMR, your staff will have all the relevant information they need when billing the patient and submitting claims for reimbursement to insurance providers.

3. Patient Eligibility Verification

Another option that you might choose to invest in is an automated patient eligibility verification tool. While many hospitals and health systems still verify patient eligibility through insurance carrier portals or even over the phone, there are sophisticated tools on the market that automate these tasks for you. Implementing these tools can prevent your physicians from seeing uninsured or underinsured patients, preventing bad debt hurting your revenue cycle.

4. Credit Card on File

Lastly, considering that patients are bearing an increasing amount of financial responsibility (due to an increase in copays and high-deductible plans), its smart to start incorporating some patient-friendly payment options. Tools like card on file, for instance, allow your organization to securely hold patients’ information, enabling simplified billing procedures—instead of wasting time and paper manually billing.

Improving the RCM of your hospital or health system should be an ongoing task, as it will only improve your financial performance and the quality of care you are able to provide your patients. These 4 tools have the potential to improve the cash flow of your organization, as they already have across the country.