Creating a Positive Environment for Patient Financial Communications

Ensuring a superior experience for patients as they seek to understand how much they will be expected to pay for their care after insurance is one of the biggest challenges facing hospitals and health systems today. During HFMA’s MAP Event, MAP award winners will share strategies for success.

Three best practices from OhioHealth, winner of HFMA’s MAP Award for High Performance in Revenue Cycle, offer a starting point for financial communications that are timely, clear, and reliable.

Establish internal transparency for collections efforts. Internal transparency builds leaders’ confidence that payment is being handled fairly and appropriately, says Jane Berkebile, system vice president, revenue cycle, OhioHealth, Dublin, Ohio. Explain why the organization has adopted a specific approach, how the organization’s financial assistance programs work, and the benefits that a POS collections effort can provide for patients.

“Be sure to include nursing leaders in these discussions, as their support is critical to the success of a POS initiative,” Berkebile says. Additionally, revenue cycle staff should always take care to ask nurses’ permission before approaching a patient within the hospital setting so that they may be sensitive to the nature of the patient’s illness and his or her ability to communicate with finance staff, she says.

Set target goals for collections and share progress with revenue cycle staff. “At OhioHealth, our POS collection goals are developed by facility and down to the department level based upon the percentage of opportunity,” Berkebile says. “We regularly provide feedback to individual registrars and financial counselors, comparing their individual collections with the target. A focus on target goals by facility and department has enabled OhioHealth to increase POS collections year over year.”

Monitor complaints and share them with revenue cycle staff. “Our organization has established a patient complaint log where calls received from unhappy customers are recorded, investigated, responded to, and tracked by category of complaint,” Berkebile says. “This is a great tool for identifying areas where process improvements are needed within the revenue cycle and within our organization. The number of complaints we receive is very minimal, but being able to quantify and communicate such complaints to executive leaders is critical to establishing transparency and trust.”

Learn more about OhioHealth’s efforts to create a positive culture for patient financial communications in this article from HFMA’s hfm magazine.

More Insights from MAP Award Winners
A variety of sessions from this year’s HFMA MAP Event, to be held Nov. 2-4 in Las Vegas, will feature strategies for improving patient financial communications from MAP Award winners with demonstrated success in this area.

By implementing new strategies for patient financial communications, UPMC has increased patient cash from an average of $16 million per month in the third quarter of 2012 to an average of $20 million per month since March 2013. During this conference kick-off workshop, April Langford, vice president, finance, UPMC, and CEO, Prodigo Revenue Cycle Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of UPMC, will discuss how UPMC has significantly reduced bad debt and enhanced patient relationships through greater financial advocacy.

Texas Health Resources will share strategies to better manage communication with patients through monitoring, scoring, and focused training with staff. This best practices session will highlight improvements in patient satisfaction, staff performance, and up-front patient collections that resulted from the initiative.

Achieving high performance in revenue cycle operations requires attention to detail in a number of segments of the revenue cycle. Using a process improvement committee, St. Luke’s Hospital has implemented a variety of revenue cycle improvements while creating an environment focused on patient and staff engagement. Learn more at this MAP Event session.

HFMA’s MAP Event is an annual revenue cycle conference that is geared toward employees of provider organizations, including healthcare executives; key staff from patient access and patient financial services; revenue cycle leaders, directors, and managers; CFOs and vice presidents of finance; physician integration project leaders; physician office revenue cycle professionals; health information professionals; clinical documentation professionals; billing, coding and finance professionals; claims adjudicators; and managed care contract liaisons.