Well before the June 2019 White House Executive Order regarding price transparency, healthcare leaders ranked offering a positive patient financial experience as one of their top two strategic priorities for 2019 1 . Today’s patients not only want cost transparency, but also an array of options for self-service and a digital experience. A survey by Adobe Digital Insights indicates that about half of people under 35 would rather engage with a computer than a human 2 . According to an Accenture report, approximately one-fifth of Gen X’ers and Millennials are very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with transparency related to their healthcare costs 3 .
Factors such as these make it increasingly critical for healthcare organizations to transform payment strategies and create a financial patient flow infused with transparency, convenience, options and customization across the revenue cycle continuum, integrating the front and back office. When taking this approach, it’s important to implement a cohesive, end-to-end payment transformation strategy that optimizes the patient’s financial experience—while at the same time improving efficiency and the bottom line.
Organizations that lack cohesion across the revenue cycle find it especially challenging to optimize a comprehensive patient payment strategy. Within a revenue cycle that is siloed—without shared data or collaborative best practices—many healthcare organizations opt to automate discrete components of the experience such as pre-service price estimation, post-service online bill pay or self-service scheduling. Without fully integrated processes, the introduction of these siloed functions potentially add work for staff while patients have a disjointed experience of confusion and delays.
Best practices + integrated technology = comprehensive success
In order to improve financial patient flow at every touch point, healthcare organizations must have technology that synergistically supports the revenue cycle via automation and self-service. By incorporating these three components into your RCM strategy, you can ensure that you are optimally leveraging technology and processes to address patient needs, improve efficiency and increase patient payment revenue:
A fully mapped workflow of the end-to-end revenue cycle process incorporating patient choices and contingencies throughout the process. Consider a patient with a scheduled procedure: What options does she have at each touchpoint—website, mobile, kiosk, front office staff, back office staff? What technology and staff processes support each of these options? Mapping your patient flow gives you the tactical knowledge of what happens at each patient and staff touchpoint, which in turn helps you understand how well you’re doing and where improvements can better support the patient.
Best practice processes that consider both efficiency and patient satisfaction. Saying you need to leverage automation and digital technology is intuitive—but automating a bad process doesn’t yield much benefit. Make sure your processes support Key Performance Indicators that make your organization competitive in today’s market. Leverage current research pointing to what patients want. As an example, the Adobe Insights research points to the demographics looking for 100 percent self-service versus those who’d prefer skilled staff to assist with registration and collecting payments.
A team that is collaborative and committed from the top down. A detailed workflow model with numerous contingencies at each step requires leadership that thinks strategically and helps staff understand the big picture. Staff must have appropriate training to fully leverage technology in a way that increases efficiency and produces the most seamless patient financial experience. At the same time, they should also stay focused on how to improve patient satisfaction by providing the best possible service. Ample training on how to interact with patients, answer questions about their financial responsibility and plan alternate payment strategies is key. Through training and frequent top-down communication, the entire revenue cycle team can understand and rally around strategic goals.
As organizations respond to new regulatory pressures regarding price transparency, it’s tempting to implement standalone patient access components to get a more immediate result. Many vendors offer technology to support this endeavor, but in the long run, an integrated patient payment strategy doesn’t just foster price transparency—it also enables a positive patient financial experience, enhances internal processes, and increases reimbursement and patient payment revenue. Achieving these goals requires a comprehensive integrated strategy with integrated technology to support it. By partnering with a vendor that maximizes your IT assets, provides staff where needed and has a proven track record deploying end-to-end RCM technology in way that effectively meets your revenue cycle needs, you can transform your patient payment strategy and realize your goals across the revenue cycle continuum.