Healthcare News & Insights

Are you missing value-based payments? Patient experience is key

Today, patients want more from hospitals as far as electronic convenience goes. And as value-based payments continue to grow, the patient experience becomes key. In this guest post, Shawn Yates, director of product management for a company that develops a variety of information systems for providers, reveals how facilities can ensure each patient has the same positive experience when communicating with your business office.

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According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans own smartphones, meaning more than 250 million Americans are carrying internet capable devices in their pockets every day: sending text messages, checking emails and, yes, even handling their financial affairs. Furthermore, Americans are embracing other technologies such as smart speakers like  Amazon’s Alexa to make purchases, and get news and weather updates.

The 2016 InstaMed Trends in Healthcare Payments Report indicates 58% of patients surveyed wanted to pay their healthcare bills online, and 61% were interested in using mobile payment methods like Android or Apple Pay to pay their healthcare bill.

In this day and age of electronic convenience, patients want more from their healthcare providers. And yet 86% of the same patients surveyed say they still receive their bills through the mail.

As value-based payments continue to grow, the patient experience becomes key. How does an institution ensure each patient has the same experience as they communicate with the business office? This can be difficult with disparate patient accounting systems and differences in quality measurement tools. To meet the demands, providers need to go beyond a simple web payment portal.

To meet patient expectations, providers will need to access their competition and ensure they’re not only meeting demands, but exceeding them. To do so, follow these three disciplines:

Provide multiple patient communication mediums

The digital age is here and consumers want the same conveniences they get with every other business. This means providing multiple communication mediums to the patient. Only having an inbound call center plus web portal is no longer acceptable. Patients now interact with internet voice response (IVR), mobile sites, text and email.

The technology to provide them with these channels exists today – leverage it to provide the complete patient experience. Not only does this make for a happier patient, it also reduces cost as fewer people will be forced to call into the call center for answers. Happier patients are more likely to become loyal patients, which is important in a much more competitive marketplace.

Aggregate data for one patient view

As the accounts receivable department builds out multiple mediums for the patient to communicate, be sure they can see a complete picture of every account they have. If the receivables department has different patient accounting systems with multiple collateralized bond obligation (CBOs), combine the data into one database to present a single unified view to the patient, and show them a complete picture of what they owe.

Patients shouldn’t only see self-pay balances, but those pending insurance resolution and denial appeals as well. Without this insight, patient frustration will rise, leading to complaints and patient dissatisfaction.

Occasionally, a patient will still need to call into a call center to complete their transaction. When this happens, your receivables staff should be able to see self-pay and pending insurance transactions in one dashboard.

If the patient must call multiple locations to get information on their visits when they can get a single view online or from a phone agent, they will get frustrated. As you pull the data together for the patient to view digitally, make sure your internal staff can see the same view and talk to the patient about all their visits with one communication.

Let the patient decide how you communicate

Earlier, we addressed how Amazon communicates with their customers. In this experience, consumers decide how they want to get updates from Amazon: emails, app updates and Alexa commands are all made available. Consumers dictate how communication takes place; healthcare must do the same.

If a patient wants their bill emailed after their stay, they should only have to tell you once. They should be able to go to a portal or call in and easily make changes to their communication preferences. These selections should then carry over to each visit, current and future. Like Amazon, your customers – patients – should only have to select once, with every interaction following suit afterward. It’s important to have the same functionality for your consumers as you go down the digital path.

Embedded quality system

After creating a single database and the channels for patients to interact, it will be important to monitor quality. Typically, scripting is used to handle patients who call in. The key is to ensure each interaction is as uniform as possible. With an embedded quality system recording calls and attaching them to the account, supervisors can perform quality audits and score accounts based on required actions for each call. This should feed into a dashboard and subsequent reporting that leadership can see each month. With this data, supervisors can now target key areas where training has the biggest impact. By taking one to two of these each quarter and providing specific training programs, patient experience can continue to be the same across all agents.

Managing the patient experience to provide all the channels they want, showing the complete picture of what the patient has open, and managing quality for human interactions are all keys to being successful. This leads to loyal patients, referrals and reduced staffing cost in call centers.

Shawn Yates serves as director of product management for Ontario Systems, a company that develops a variety of information systems for providers.

 

 

 

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