Author's note: At the time this article went to press, we realized that COVID-19 was very much on the minds of our members and others who are on the front lines of this pandemic. But because this column was subject to printer deadlines, we also realized it was not possible to ensure it would reflect the most current and relevant information. So we decided not to focus on the pandemic in this space, but to look to the future of our healthcare system that will extend beyond the current crisis. That said, HFMA also is committed to providing you, our members, with the essential information, guidance and support you need to weather this crisis and emerge with strength, ready to meet new challenges and better serve our patients. Get HFMA's latest information on COVID-19.
Introducing a tool for improving the patient financial experience
Waiting in line is nobody’s favorite part of visiting a Disney theme park. But given that wait times of over an hour are common for Disney attractions, it’s surprising that parkgoers tend not to find waiting to be a major dissatisfier.
That’s because Disney has invested so much in taking the pain points out of the waiting experience and actually making it fun. As guests wait, Disney characters may parade the line, shaking hands and posing for selfies with guests. Guests also may watch video clips or play games as they move through the waiting area's rope maze. And they can take back control over wait times by using a FastPass+ to bypass the line for their “must-do” attractions.
Why am I writing about waiting lines at Disney? Because for patients, the financial experience is the equivalent of the waiting line for theme parkgoers: And unless healthcare’s experience architects work some magic, it’s bound to be a huge dissatisfier.
Luckily, you don’t need a degree in experience architecture or magical powers to transform your organization’s patient financial experience. What you do need is the desire to improve the patient experience and truly put patients first. No more excuses.
If you are confident that patients are truly your top priority, check out HFMA’s new Consumerism Maturity Model. Developed by our Consumerism Maturity Model Task Force, the model deconstructs the patient financial experience and organizes it into 16 dimensions with dozens of potential pain points.
They’re all baked into a tool you can use to assess the consumer friendliness of your organization’s business practices. The questions in the self-assessment toolare concrete and specific. For example:
- Does your organization’s website show which physicians are accepting new patients?
- Is an online chat feature available to consumers who have questions about their bills?
The model also incorporates HFMA’s best practices and other guidance for patient financial communications, price transparency and medical debt resolution.
After receiving your score on the self-assessment, you can use your results to develop a process improvement plan. If our beta testers’ experience is a guide, you may find this granular and actionable information paints a picture that's surprising and even a little humbling. But even a journey of a thousand miles begins with, well, identifying your starting point. After you complete the Consumerism Maturity Model self-assessment, you’ll have your starting point and a launching pad for jump-starting improvements. And rest assured: I personally guarantee that costumed characters, selfies and video games are not required.