The Patient Accessibility, Engagement and Experience cohort at HFMA’s 2019 Annual Conference yielded 10 key takeaways.
- The urgency to meet the challenge of improving the patient experience is growing throughout the healthcare industry.
- A worthwhile step for providers is to undertake a journey-mapping process to gauge where improvements are needed in the patient experience.
- An as-yet unrealized milestone in improving the patient experience is the ability to provide personalized out-of-pocket costs for services.
- Some providers are opening innovation centers to counter the momentum of industry disrupters such as Apple, Amazon and CVS, which specialize in catering to customers.
As patients and employers bear more responsibility for the costs of healthcare, they can be expected to act more like consumers do when interacting with other industries: actively searching out high-value services instead of simply seeking care where their physician or health plan directs them.
For providers, adjusting to this emerging consumer mindset requires a new approach to their core operations. In all processes, from marketing to revenue cycle to clinical care, they must consider best practices for attracting patients and earning their loyalty.
Strategies for acclimating to a consumer-centric system were discussed in depth during a cohort of three sessions at HFMA’s 2019 Annual Conference. Here are 10 key takeaways from the cohort, which was sponsored by Cedar.
1. The end-to-end consumer experience should be prioritized
“See me, hear me, know me” is the demand from patients today. Providers should look to revamp revenue cycle processes to provide individualized, personalized healthcare financial experiences. Journey-mapping patients’ experiences can provide insights as to where improvements are needed. Challenging assumptions is crucial. For example, it turns out that many seniors prefer to make payments digitally.
2. Patients are the new payer, and that has ramifications for the industry
With patients facing higher deductibles, providers should prioritize creating a positive and easy payment experience. They should be responsive to patient needs by offering options for making payments. To better meet patient expectations, patient navigators should be equipped with information on patients’ financial profiles and payment preferences.
3. Providers should digitalize and personalize the patient experience
Patients tend to willingly pay bills if the bills are comprehensible and making payments is easy and convenient. Providers can remove barriers to payment by creating a digital experience and offering real-time availability for patients to ask questions, such as via live chats and 24-hour customer service. A range of options, from old-school mail to digital, should be available for making payments.
“We embarked on a digital experience for patients to increase patient satisfaction with the billing experience,” said Vicki McKinney, COO and chief revenue officer, WESTMED Practice Partners, Purchase, N.Y. “However, we found an added benefit was a significant decrease in time to collect and self-pay [accounts receivable]. Patients are consumers, and they’re used to the digital world. Healthcare has to catch up.”