Healthcare has always been an industry of great innovation, with ever-evolving advancements in treatment options and technology. But shifts in overarching societal norms, like the rise of consumerism (think Amazon Prime), have also prompted healthcare providers to expand their focus on innovation to promoting excellence in overall patient experience. The rise of consumerism has shifted patient expectations, with access and convenience as critical aspects taken into consideration when seeking care. Patients are putting more effort into “shopping around” for their preferred healthcare experience. As a result, providers are investing in patient experience efforts at unprecedented levels.
Consumerism During the Pandemic
While certainly of interest prior to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic response forced providers to think outside-of-the-box to ensure safe and uninterrupted access to care. Out of necessity, providers advanced routes of care like telehealth and “minute clinics” that, as it happens, align well with the increased industry focus on consumerism:
Even though telehealth has existed as a technology for many years, its popularity skyrocketed during 2020 to accommodate safety protocols that were initiated by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) to manage the quick onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent SYKES survey, 61% of Americans have experienced a telehealth appointment as of March 2021 compared to 19.5% in March 2020. While key questions surrounding reimbursement rates exist, many providers are responding to sustained patient interest in telehealth in spite of transition into a post-pandemic environment. The SYKES survey uncovered that 88% of Americans want to continue using telehealth services for non-urgent consultations even after COVID-19 has been resolved. Approximately, 80% of Americans also feel it is possible to receive quality care through a telehealth/telemedicine appointment.
There was also an increase in patient utilization of pharmacy “minute clinic” care options this past year, where many major pharmacies have expanded services to act as a “one stop shop” for minor health concerns (i.e. diagnosis and prescriptions available in one location). Convenient locations, walk-in availability, extended hours and self-pay options demonstrate the “minute clinic” model’s alignment with patient consumerism. “Minute clinics” also played an important role in the COVID-19 response, partnering with public health officials as testing and vaccine sites.
The overnight proliferation of telehealth and “minute clinic” options resulting from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced what is possible in-patient experience, and consumers want more. Moving ahead, providers must continue to think critically about promoting positive patient experience in all aspects of healthcare service delivery. Implementing a robust patient financial experience program represents a meaningful opportunity for providers to differentiate themselves from competing systems.
Streamlining the Patient Financial Experience
Patient financial experience plays a critical role in provider response to the increase in patient consumerism. Similar to a shopping experience with any retailer, patients increasingly expect a straightforward, upfront understanding of cost, and payment methods that are convenient to use (e.g. payment apps). Patients are also interested in flexible payment options like zero-interest financing over a pre-determined period of time. Such concerted focus on patient financial experience represents a key strategy for encouraging patient retention, which is especially important in an environment increasingly driven by consumer expectations.
In an environment where patients are actively “shopping” for healthcare services, patient financial experience represents an aspect of revenue cycle management critical to financial sustainability. Providers must consider patient experience at every stage of revenue cycle operation. In order to retain patients, providers must promote transparency and ease-of-use from the point of patient scheduling and registration through the patient billing and remittance process. The ease of use promoted through incorporation of patient financial experience efforts can result in both increased revenue capture and long-term patient retention.
Signature Streamlines Healthcare Administrative Demands
When it comes to healthcare in the U.S., the more you can simplify any process, the better the experience is for providers, payers, and patients. With rising healthcare administrative costs being a leading concern within the healthcare industry, an innovative approach is needed to streamline communication and data management now more than ever. Implementing an efficient and effective workflow design that streamlines the demands of the healthcare administrative industry will ensure that the healthcare system infrastructure post pandemic can weather future disruptions and can improve upon current processes.
When claims and coding are completed or resolved as efficiently as possible, providers are able to be paid on time and patients can avoid the stress of medical bill confusion. Investing in a partnership that uses the latest technology can help minimize errors in the billing process and can increase the rate at which claims are being filed. This leads to overall financial improvement for everyone involved. Signature Performance is improving not only our clients’ business but the entire healthcare industry by finding better ways to leverage technology and industry-leading processes which lower the cost of healthcare administration.
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Justine Olsen is the Director of Data Intelligence and Operations at Signature Performance Inc., in Omaha, NE. Signature Performance is an industry leader in reducing healthcare administration costs for private and public healthcare sectors. Our unmatched experience in serving both the payer and provider side of healthcare financial management allows us to implement innovative solutions for every administrative demand.