Are You Giving Patient Engagement the Proper Care and Attention? 

By: Laura Anderson, senior vice president, RCM product management, Change Healthcare 


Humanizing the revenue cycle journey for patients with clear communication, price transparency, and individualized financial care can help the provider's bottom line.

As consumers, we crave convenience and simplicity, and across an array of industries, technology has made it increasingly easy to search for and purchase products and services. From getting a pizza delivered to buying a car online, the process often involves entering a few pieces of information, hitting send, and waiting for a confirmation email.

A Changing Landscape

Unsurprisingly, people want this same level of convenience and simplicity when they're seeking care. This change in consumer demand for convenience is further compounded by fundamental shifts in the healthcare ecosystem. Among these shifts are cost-sharing models that have increased patient out-of-pocket expenses, healthcare systems that are increasingly shifting toward delivering value-based care, and innovations in digital health solutions.

While patients want to play an active role in managing their well-being, that is often easier said than done in a system that uses a combination of manual processes and non-integrated point solutions to try and meet consumer demand. Disparate and burdensome methods of managing patient engagement often lead to inefficiencies within provider organizations, resulting in missed appointments, increased registration and eligibility-based denials, incomplete payments, higher collections and write-offs, and low patient satisfaction.

Consumer Dissatisfaction

Healthcare consumers today feel like they're fighting an uphill battle. According to Change Healthcare’s 2020 Harris Poll Consumer Experience Index, 67% of respondents agreed that it “feels like every step of the healthcare process is a chore.” A similar percentage, 62%, agreed that “the healthcare system feels like it is set up to be confusing.”

Furthermore, if consumers don’t receive the level of convenience and digitization they want from their current provider, they’re more than willing to seek it out elsewhere. In a recent Black Book survey, 80% of respondents indicated they would be willing to change providers for more convenience even if they were receiving good care from their current provider. An even higher percentage of patients,  90% , do not think they have to continue seeing a provider if that provider does not “deliver an overall satisfactory digital experience.”

A Patient-Centric Approach

Improving the patient experience starts with humanizing revenue cycle management (RCM) —the administrative process that takes the patient from registration and appointment scheduling to the final payment of a balance. Simply making administrative touchpoints self-service and easy to understand throughout the patient’s financial journey can help humanize revenue cycle management for providers.

How is that possible? By thinking about the patients’ side of the administrative process and leveraging innovative technologies like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation (RPA), natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning. The more that providers’ staffs are able to automate repetitive tasks, the more time they're able to spend helping provide a seamless patient engagement journey that is focused on a patient’s specific needs. In other words, reducing human intervention throughout our technologies allows providers to infuse more human interaction with each patient as they navigate their healthcare journey.

According to Change Healthcare’s 2020 Harris Poll Consumer Experience Index, what patients really want is a retail-like shopping experience with modern, streamlined communication, as the vast majority (81%) agreed that “shopping for healthcare should be as easy as shopping for other common services” via a streamlined access point online. A clear majority (71%) also said they want their health insurance and healthcare providers (68%) to communicate with them using more-modern platforms.

Simplified Scheduling and Payment

The entire clinical-care journey is focused on the specific needs of the patient rather than the provider, so why shouldn’t the patient’s financial journey be handled the exact same way? From a patient-satisfaction perspective, patients are not separating their clinical journey from their financial journey, so providers should start viewing it the same way.

It should be easy to schedule an appointment and modify that appointment if needed. Patients should have to (securely) provide their personal and insurance information only once (digitally and in advance), then be squared away when they show up for their appointment with their provider. In addition, because of COVID-19 and the heightened awareness surrounding personal interaction, it’s important to provide patients with no-contact check-in and waiting room options.

By humanizing RCM, providers can achieve a cohesive end-to-end journey that allows patients to quickly and easily get the care they need complete with clear communication, price transparency ,  and a provider who truly takes the time to understand their unique situations. By putting the patient back at the center of their care journey, providers can improve care outcomes while also driving maximized business outcomes for their organizations.

* This article originally appeared in Healthcare Innovation 

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