Bjerga named a rising star in healthcare

Lisa Bjerga of Lakewood Health System is one of 50 people in the nation to be named the the Becker’s Hospital Review “Rising Stars: 50 Healthcare Leaders Under 40,” announced in July.

“It was surprising and flattering,” Bjerga said. “It was an honor just to be nominated.”

Bjerga said she was nominated by Lakewood Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jim Dregney, who recently left the system for another job.

She worked with Dregney for eight years after coming from the financial audit field. “There was a steep learning curve, Jim did a fantastic job explaining everything and helping me learn the system,” said Bjerga.

Once she learned the system, she helped make improvements. Becker’s Hospital Review cited her “revenue cycle efficiency programs” as a main reason for their selection. 

Bjerga described that as putting all the different revenue cycles under one big umbrella. “It is more efficient up front and there are decreased errors,” she said. “It is more standardized for the whole system.”

The changes are not just helpful in the financial office, the new system also reflects improvements for patients. “The financial changes allow patients to have more of a say in their health care options and understand the price of their care,” said Bjerga. 

As billing for health care is going more towards a value-driven model, Bjerga said it is important to have transparent billing that is patient-friendly. She recognizes that health care is a unique client in which patients don’t plan on coming in, so the payments can be unexpected and upsetting.

She helped implement the pre-encounter team to work with patients before they have a procedure and give them a cost estimate. If they pay up front, they can get a discount. “That helps with the patient experience,” said Bjerga.

Besides working on the revenue systems, Bjerga was also part of the team that converted the entire Lakewood computer system to their EPIC program. “It was a big change,” said Bjerga. “We had been in recovery mode since then, but we have it stabilized and now are looking for ways to optimize the system.”

Bjerga started at Lakewood in 2008 as an accountant. “I don’t think I even had a title,” she said. But since then, she has become a finance manager, director of revenue cycle and now vice president of finance and revenue cycle, which she described as a connection between the CFO and the every day operations.

She said health care finance is one of the more complex systems because of the rules for payments and compliance. Every person has different health insurance plans to integrate into the system.

But Bjerga is glad she got into the business. “Lakewood is a great place to work,” she said. “Everyone is upbeat, friendly and open.”

“We have an amazing team, we focus on results and do what’s right for Lakewood and for patients,” said Bjerga. Tthe office of fiscal and revenue managers, staff and the rest of the team is part of her success. “We work hard and have fun,” she said.

While there are paramaters and compliance rules that they have to stay within, Bjerga said that Lakewood encourages employees to be progressive and autonomous. We can do new things,” she said.

That starts with CEO Tim Rice. “He always wants to try new things and is focused on patients,” said Bjerga.

Because Dregney had moved out of Lakewood before the award was announced, Bjerga didn’t find out about it until Becker’s Hospital Review came out with their list. She sees it as a way to promote Lakewood as well, since people in the health care industry pay attention to Becker’s Hospital Review for which organizations to watch.

Bjerga is the only person in Minnesota to make the list this year.

 

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