• Enhanced Website Helps Rural Hospital Increase Volumes

    Jan 24, 2012

    After expanding its website, Henry County Health Center can promote its services across a wider geographic area. The result: Patients from 233 cities relied on the hospital for care in FY11.

    Henry County Health Center, a 25-bed critical access hospital in rural southeast Iowa, wanted to enhance its ability to connect with patients, particularly in the area of revenue cycle, as well as provide online self-service features that could empower patients and improve patient satisfaction.

    Since 2005, Henry County has expanded its web services to include:

    • Preregistration
    • Online bill pay
    • The ability for patients to update insurance information online
    • Tools for obtaining price estimates, price comparisons, and quality data
    • A personal health management tool that helps patients track their medical expenses, maintain an online medical history, and set diet and fitness goals-all from their home computers
    • Access to multimedia health content and 3-D virtual tours of the hospital
    • Online job postings and employment applications

    Henry County Health Center has received national recognition for its efforts, earning a "Most Wired" award from Hospitals & Health Networks magazine for five consecutive years. But the biggest reward for the organization is the dramatic increase in use of the website by patients and their families: From August 2008 through January 2009, the number of page views increased by more than five times in the first two years after Henry County Health Center began this initiative.

    Expanded web capabilities also have enabled the health system to better promote its services across a wider geographic area-and have increased patient volume. From August 2008 through January 2009, the health system recorded patients from 156 cities across the state of Iowa; in FY11, patients from 233 cities relied on the health system for care and service.

    Although senior citizens and Medicare patients have been less likely to use the health system's web tools-younger patients "really appreciate a tool such as this," says McClure. "The people who use our web tools are return users; this is how they want to conduct business with our organization. I'll get phone calls from patients telling me how much they appreciate the online options. These tools are one way that we provide a better experience for our patients."

    This article is excerpted from HFMA's PATIENT FRIENDLY BILLING® project report, Case Studies in Customer Service.