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What do an online shoe and apparel retailer, a specialty grocery chain, and a luxury hotelier have to do with patient satisfaction at a healthcare organization?
Quite a lot!
These businesses consistently achieve remarkably high customer satisfaction ratings. Though these industries are varied and vastly different from health care, these unwavering supporters of service adhere to the fundamental best practices of guest care that are relevant and translatable to any organization that provides goods and/or services to a competitive marketplace.
Patients have choices, and their role in the selection and payment of their health care continues to expand. Helping to increase patient satisfaction-especially when dealing with billing issues-can help improve retention rates, accelerate payment, and ensure your organization is financially healthy.
Let's take a look at some best practices used by these service leaders and how their approaches might be applied to your billing department.
If you know anyone who has ever bought a pair of shoes from Zappos.com, they've likely given the company's customer-centric policies rave reviews. Here are the linchpins of Zappos' approach to customer service.
Creating a culture of customer advocacy.As CEO Tony Hsieh said, "If we get the culture right, then everything else, including the customer service, will fall into place." Zappos knows happy employees offer better customer service, are more likely to stay with the company, and become the most supportive advocates to help recruit great talent.
Connecting with customers. The company has built relationships with customers by using social media to share information and stay connected. It has fearlessly embraced the latest communications tools, from Twitter and Facebook to blogs and YouTube, to become a presence in consumers' daily lives.
Trader Joe's is a California-based, privately held grocery store chain that has managed to create a recognized, beloved brand while maintaining a "mom-and-pop" feel at each location.
A quirky personality is the key component of Trader Joe's ability to attract and keep happy customers. Since the company's early years, Trader Joe's has been known as the grocery store with personality. There's a friendly, accessible feel to the brand that is noticeable in the store's decor, through the humorous The Fearless Flyer direct mailers, and via conversational interactions with staff members. Though the company's founder, Joe Coulombe, sold the chain in 1979, his family contends he still "owns the cult."
Many luxury hotel chains focus on customer service, yet The Ritz-Carlton stands out as a leader in its industry. The company is a two-time winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and since 2000, its Leadership Center has been a hub for executives of diverse corporations to learn The Ritz-Carlton's tried-and-true principles of service excellence.
The Ritz-Carlton employs 38,000 people in its 77 hotels worldwide. Frontline staff go through 300 hours of training in their first year of employment and 120 hours in subsequent years. This intensive culture of kindness works, as attested in rave reviews from travelers, as well as in reports from business publications. Here are two ways the Ritz-Carlton has accomplished this feat.
Paying attention to detail. Guests at any Ritz-Carlton location are treated to a high standard of detailed, personalized service. From offering a child toys to play with while his parents check in to surprising a couple celebrating an anniversary with a free cake, The Ritz-Carlton staff is trained to observe, listen, and respond graciously. This approach inspires lifelong customer loyalty and unabashed praise.
Handling mistakes. Even in a culture of superior service, an organization with 77 locations across the globe is going to face its share of missteps each day. The Ritz-Carlton has a wise strategy for facing mistakes: acknowledge, apologize, and make it right. Employees are empowered to immediately make amends if a guest experiences an error. Even when an error can't be corrected, the staff may respond by offering a free breakfast or leaving a basket of gourmet goodies in the room.
How can revenue cycle leaders apply these strategies for improving customer service within their billing departments? Consider the commonalities among these three customer service superstars.
Ensure your culture is focused on great service. Great customer service should be at the heart of your organization; it should never be applied as an afterthought. If your aim is to improve patient billing processes, put together a cross-functional team to document the patient experience-from the initial encounter through final billing and payment. For example, is your patient statement designed to improve readability and support your patient satisfaction goals? How are patients informed about your billing policies? Are there opportunities to improve awareness and educate patients about your billing processes, available payment options, and tips for reading and understanding their statement?
Value and educate your employees. Best practices for customer service happen from the inside out-and this starts by valuing your employees. The patient billing team is a critical component of your organization. Provide your employees with the right training to ensure they are well-versed on existing patient billing policies and procedures to eliminate confusion and help patients navigate the system.
Provide open, direct, and frequent communications with customers. Whether face to face, online, in print, or via social media, there is no veil between customers and staff members who can make the difference. This practice is especially important for healthcare organizations communicating with patients regarding their financial responsibilities. Providing direct, clear, and frequent communications can help eliminate confusion, improve patient satisfaction, and promote prompt payment.
How does your organization stack up to these standards? Even if these principles aren't fully integrated throughout your hospital or practice, you can make them happen in your billing department. Perhaps by doing so, you'll be the service inspiration for your organization.
Want to learn more about improving your patient billing processes? Emdeon Patient Connect is a comprehensive suite of patient billing and payment solutions that can improve patient satisfaction while accelerating cash flow by automating key processes and expanding payment collection channels. Call 877.EMDEON.6 (866.363.3666) to expedite patient receivables cash flow at your organization.
Aho, K., The 2011 Customer Service Hall of Fame, MSN Money, May 27, 2011.
Bell, S., Puttin' on the Ritz, CRM magazine, May 2001.
Chapman, M., Learn From the Best: 5-Star Customer Service Lessons From Ritz-Carlton, Results Revolution, Jan. 14, 2011.
Holtz, S., Zappos Sticks to Its Values in Communicating Customer Database Breach, Social Media Today, Jan. 19, 2012.
J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Hotel Guests Are Considerably Less Satisfied in 2008, Primarily Due to Issues with Amenities and Guest Room Features, J.D. Power and Associates, July 29, 2008.
Kane, L., Customer Satisfaction is Key: The Top 10 Companies With Great Customer Service, LearnVest, Nov. 24, 2010.
Kowitt, B., Meet the Original Joe, CNNMoney, Aug. 23, 2010.
Porterfield, A., 9 Companies Doing Social Media Right and Why, Social Media Examiner, April 12, 2011.
Twitter Is Not About Marketing, It's About Engagement, Tweet Magazine, July 19, 2011.
Publication Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
In this Business Profile, Shawn Yates, director of healthcare product management at Ontario Systems, discusses the growing challenge of managing self-pay accounts and provides insight on how providers can successfully collect patient payments.
In this business profile, Cathy Smith, leader of the revenue transformation consulting practice at The Claro Group discusses how the organization helps hospitals and medical groups reimagine their revenue cycle.
In this business profile, Deloitte & Touche LLP executives Anne Phelps, principal and U.S. healthcare regulatory leader, and Daniel Esquibel, senior manager, explain ways health systems, health plans, and physician practices can prepare for MACRA.
In this Business Profile, Bruce Haupt, president and CEO of ClearBalance, discusses how a patient loan program can increase patient collections, reduce bad debt, and speed cash flow.
In this Business Profile, Jerry Bruno, principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP, discusses the importance of choosing revenue cycle solutions that help an organization meet the challenges of a quickly evolving healthcare environment.
In this business profile, Lane Jackson, a partner in the Grant Thornton LLP Health Care Advisory Services practice, with extensive experience in overseeing system implementations and revenue cycle reorganizations, discusses best practices for elevating revenue cycle performance during an EMR implementation. Grant Thornton LLP is a sponsor of the Large System Controllers Council Affinity Group.
Patient financial engagement is more challenging than ever – and more critical. With patient responsibility as a percentage of revenue on the rise, providers have seen their billing-related costs and accounts receivable levels increase. If increasing collection yield and reducing costs are a priority for your organization, the metrics outlined in this presentation will provide the framework you need to understand what’s working and what’s not, in order to guide your overall patient financial engagement initiatives and optimize results.
No two patients are the same. Each has a very personal healthcare experience, and each has distinct financial needs and preferences that have an impact on how, when and if they chose to pay their healthcare bill. It’s no longer effective to apply static billing techniques to solve the complex challenge of collecting balances from patients. The need to tailor financial conversations and payment options to individual needs and preferences is critical. This presentation provides 10 recommendations that will not only help you improve payment performance through a more tailored approach, but take control of rising collection costs.
This white paper, written by Apex Vice President of Solutions and Services, Carrie Romandine, discusses the importance of patient segmentation and messaging specifically related to the patient revenue cycle. Applying strategic messaging that is tailored to each patient type will not only better educate consumers on payment options specific to their billing needs, but it will maximize the amount collected before sending to collections. Further, targeted messaging should be applied across all points of patient interaction (i.e. point of service, customer service, patient statements) and analyzed regularly for maximized results.
This white paper, written by Apex President Patrick Maurer, discusses methods to increase patient adoption of online payments. Providers are now seeking ways to incrementally collect more payments due from patients as well as speeding up the rate of collections. This white paper shows why patient-centric approaches to online payment portals are important complements to traditional provider-centric approaches.
Increased electronic engagement between healthcare providers and patients provides significant opportunities for improving revenue cycle metrics and encouraging patients to access EHRs. This article, written by Apex Founder and CEO Brian Kueppers, explores a number of strategies to create synergy between patient billing, online payment portals and electronic health record (EHR) software to realize a high ROI in speed to payment, patient satisfaction and portal adoption for meaningful use.
Faced with a rising tide of bad debt, a large Southeastern healthcare system was seeing a sharp decline in net patient revenues. The need to improve collections was dire. By integrating critical tools and processes, the health system was able to increase online payments and improve its financial position. Taking a holistic approach increased overall collection yield by 10% while costs came down because the number of statements sent to patients fell by 10%, which equated to a $1.3M annualized improvement in patient cash over a six-month period. This case study explains how.
With the ICD10 deadline quickly approaching and daily responsibilities not slowing down, final preparations for October 1 require strategic prioritization and laser focus.
Read how Gwinnett Medical Center provides clear connections to financial information, offers multiple payment options for patients, and gives onsite staff the ability to collect payments at multiple points throughout the care process.
Read how Orlando Health was able to perform deeper dives into claims data to help the health system see claim rejections more quickly–even on the front end–and reduce A/R days.
To maintain fiscal fitness and boost patient satisfaction and loyalty, healthcare providers need visibility into when and how much they will be paid–by whom–and the ability to better navigate obstacles to payment. They need payment clarity. This whitepaper illuminates this concept that is winning fans at forward-thinking hospitals.
Financial services staff are always looking for ways to improve the verification, billing and collections processes, and Munson Healthcare is no different. Read about how they streamlined the billing process to produce cleaner bills on the front end and helped financial services staff collect more than $1 million in additional upfront annual revenue in one year.
Effective revenue cycle management can be a challenge for any hospital, but for smaller providers it is even tougher. Read how Wallace Thomson identified unreimbursed procedures, streamlined claims management, and improved its ability to determine charity eligibility.
Before launching an energy-efficiency initiative, it’s important to build a solid business case and understand the funding options and potential incentives that are available. Healthcare leaders should consider taking the steps outlined in the whitepaper to ease the process of gaining approval, piloting, implementing, and supporting sustainability projects. You will find that investing in sustainability and energy efficiency helps hospitals add cash to their bottom line. Discover how hospitals and health systems have various options for funding energy-efficient and renewable-energy initiatives, depending on their current financial structure and strategy.
Health care is a dynamic mergers and acquisitions market with numerous hospitals and health systems contemplating or pursuing formal arrangements with other entities. These relationships often pose a strategic benefit, such as enhancing competencies across the continuum, facilitating economies of scale, or giving the participants a competitive advantage in a crowded market. Underpinning any profitable acquisition is a robust capital planning strategy that ensures an organization reserves sufficient funds and efficiently onboards partners that advance the enterprise mission and values.
The success of healthcare mergers, acquisitions, and other affiliations is predicated in part on available capital, and the need for and sources of funding are considerations present throughout the partnering process, from choosing a partner to evaluating an arrangement’s capital needs to selecting an integration model to finding the right money source to finance the deal. This whitepaper offers several strategies that health system leaders have used to assess and manage capital needs for their growing networks.
Announcements from several commercial payers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) early in 2015 around increased efforts to form value-based contracts with providers seemed to point to an impending rise in risk-based contracting. Rather than wait for disruption from the outside in, health care providers are now making inroads on collaborating with payers on various risk-based contracting models to increase the value of health care from within.
Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) is a not-for-profit hospital serving a population of roughly 200,000 in Yuma and the surrounding communities.
Before becoming a ZirMed client, Yuma was attempting to manually monitor hundreds of thousands of charges which led to significant charge capture leakage. Learn how Yuma & ZirMed worked together to address underlying collections issues at the front end, thus increasing Yuma’s overall bottom line.
Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services works with partners to audit the market and the facility’s role in that market to identify opportunities for improvement. This approach leads to successes; Kindred’s clinical rehab and management expertise complements our partners’ strengths. Every facility and challenge is unique, and requires a full objective analysis.
As the critical link between patient care and reimbursement, health information enables more complete and accurate revenue capture. This 5-Minute White Paper Briefing shares how to achieve cost-effective revenue integrity by your optimizing HIM systems.
Speedier cash flow starts with better CDI and coding. This 5-Minute White Paper Briefing explains how providers can improve vital measures of technical and business performance to accelerate cash flow.
Qualified coders are getting harder to come by, and even the most seasoned professional can struggle with the complexity of ICD-10. This 5-Minute White Paper Briefing explains how partnerships can help improve coding and other key RCM operations potentially at a cost savings.
The point of managing your revenue cycle isn’t just to improve revenue and cash flow. It’s to do those things effectively by consistently following best practices— while spending as little time, money, and energy on them as possible.
How Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford increased payments received within 45 days by 20% and reduced paper submission claims by 70% by using ZirMed solutions.
The reasons claims are denied are so varied that managing denials can feel like chasing a thousand different tails. This situation is not surprising given that a hypothetical denial rate of just 5 percent translates to tens of thousands of denied claims per year for large hospitals—where real‐world denial rates often range from 12 to 22 percent. Read about how predictive modeling can detect meaningful correlations across claims denials data.
Emergency Mobile Health Care (EMHC) was founded to be and remains an exclusively locally owned and operated emergency medical service organization; today EMHC serves a population of more than a million people in and around Memphis, answering 75,000 calls each year.
Since the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) introduction, CMS has paid more than $100 million in bonus payments to participants. However, these bonuses ended in 2015; providers who successfully meet the reporting requirements in 2016 will avoid the 2% negative payment adjustment in 2018, so now is the time to act! Included in this whitepaper are implications of increasing patient responsibility, collections best practices, and collections and internal control solutions.
Getting paid what your physician deserves—that’s the goal of every biller. Yet even for the best billers, achieving that success can be elusive when denials stand in the way of success, presenting challenges at every turn. Denials aren’t going away, but you can learn techniques to manage and even prevent them.Join practice management expert Elizabeth W. Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC, to: Discover methods to translate denial data into business intelligence to improve your bottom line, determine staff productivity benchmarks for billers, and recognize common mistakes in denial management.
Physician practices must improve organizational efficiency to compete in this era of reduced reimbursement and escalating administrative costs.
Many healthcare organizations are pursuing next-generation health information systems solutions. Learn more about Navigant's work with University of Michigan Health System.
The proper implementation of healthcare information technology systems is crucial to an organization’s financial health.
Drive down costs while improving quality in a reform environment.
Receive expert insights and how-to action to achieve and maintain peak revenue cycle performance.
Access expert insights on financial forecasting/planning, strategic partnerships, capital allocation, and more.
Stay informed about new directions in healthcare finance. Share tools and strategies for improving performance. Be an active participant in your profession. Together, we’ll reshape the business and practice of healthcare. Join us.
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