R1 RCMNovember 12, 2021
The patient journey often starts before a patient sets foot in a hospital or a physician's office. It’s the initial steps in the revenue cycle that can set the tone for the entire patient journey.
During a November webinar hosted by Becker's Healthcare and sponsored by R1 RCM, Joe Polaris, R1 senior vice president of product and technology, moderated a discussion among leaders from Ascension, a large nonprofit health system, about optimizing the revenue cycle and enhancing the patient experience.
- Mandie Brzon, vice president of revenue cycle
- Kramer Schmidt, vice president of consumer product
- Jon Sohn, SVP and chief revenue officer
Four key takeaways:
- There are multiple steps in the patient journey on which digital solutions can improve. These include appointment scheduling, registration, financial counseling and clearance, obtaining a cost estimate and the payment experience. Many consumers prefer to manage these steps by accessing them at their convenience through a digital front door rather than by conversing over the phone with an administrator.
- The revenue cycle intersects with the patient journey at multiple points. Removing friction from those intersections is paramount. It usually starts at scheduling; therefore, transforming that early interaction into an omnichannel experience — so that users can easily schedule on the web or via chat, text, phone call or a site visit — is key to enabling the digital front door. It ends with payment, where deploying flexible payment plans with customizable timelines and amounts resonates with patients. "The problem we're trying to solve is the sense of dispersion and disconnection as a consumer travels from scheduling to registration to receiving care and ultimately to paying their bill," Mr. Schmidt said.
- Organizations that remove complexity and allow patients and physicians to focus on what truly matters stand out. One high-level approach to simplification is viewing the revenue cycle as a cross-functional responsibility rather than as the remit of an individual department, ironing out the kinks and standardizing, while keeping the patient perspective front and center.
Examples of eliminating friction include digitizing orders to make a clean order the foundation for the remaining steps of the financial clearance process coupled with proactively managing prior authorizations, which reduces patient anxiety, and being transparent about cost estimates upfront, which helps patients understand their financial responsibility and improves payment. "We have declared the revenue cycle a strategic imperative, so our management is no longer traditional finance but is co-led by all teams, including technology, patient engagement, front-line operations, clinical operations and digital studio," Mr. Sohn said
- Eliminating friction from the patient journey translates into efficiency gains. With digitization that allows patients to complete registration on their terms and intelligent automation that can validate insurance in real time, obtain prior authorizations and cue the scheduling process, providers can hardwire solutions to some of the most time-consuming steps of the patient journey. "What a reduction of a few minutes allowed us to do [thanks to automation] was to eliminate our hold time for patients. And from a provider perspective, we were able to reduce our time to schedule down to two minutes max," Ms. Brzon said.
Revenue cycle optimization is a key factor in improving the patient experience, and organizations that dedicate attention and resources to it stand to gain patient loyalty and improve their bottom line.
Author Bio: Content written on behalf of R1 RCM.