Like many industries, healthcare is in the midst of an upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But healthcare organizations have the unique challenge of being at the forefront of the crisis, while also being adversely affected by the financial fallout from the pandemic. As cases continue to surge in many parts of the country, healthcare organizations are feeling the strain on their bottom line as non-COVID-19 patients avoid seeking care. But, with a digital strategy that is comprehensive, patient-centric and transparent, healthcare organizations can turn the tide.
There are several reasons patients are reluctant to seek care at the moment, including the fear of contracting COVID-19 and being unable to pay for care as a result of losing their health insurance due to the pandemic, said Carrie Moneymaker, national vice president of Zotec Partners, at an August 24 webinar. The webinar was hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review and sponsored by Zotec Partners.
Here are five key thoughts from the discussion:
1. Consumers expect digital tools and user-focused interactions across all industries. With companies like Uber and Amazon, they are used to mobile communications that are convenient and offer transparency, Ms. Moneymaker said. Surveys have shown that patients will seek out providers that offer certain technology options, including digital scheduling and online payment options.
“The gig is up,” she said. “The consumers know the technology exists, but we are not providing that for them.”
2. Healthcare consumers also want multiple payment options offered via solutions that provide a streamlined experience. One mistake healthcare organizations often make is stringing together different systems from different vendors, Ms. Moneymaker said. This can result in a broken, siloed experience for the consumer. Organizations should evaluate their current processes to identify the gaps as well as the areas in which there is overlap. The best way to do this is to walk through the process yourself as the consumer would and experience it, she said.
3. Implementing an omnichannel model of communication that includes calls, texting and mobile applications, can allow your organization to interact with the patient early and often. Proactive communication was always important, but it has become even more so during the pandemic. Get in touch with patients before they set foot in your facility and offer services like price estimation, Ms. Moneymaker said. This goes beyond just providing the cost of service — patients need to know how much they will owe upfront. This will help improve patient satisfaction and payment rates.
4. It is also important to marry the data your healthcare organization collects with empathy, Ms. Moneymaker said. Use the data and predictive analytics capabilities to create processes around patient engagement and collections that are customized for each unique consumer. Make engaging with your practice or health system easy for the patient and show them that you understand diverse patient needs.
5. Take the time to find the right technology solution and partner for you, Ms. Moneymaker said. Each practice has a unique set of challenges that require a specific solution. Find a vendor with experience and one that understands your organization’s needs.
“Revenue cycle is really just an extension of your clinical practice,” Ms. Moneymaker said. “The success of your revenue cycle relies heavily on the success of your clinical operations. We shouldn’t separate these two. It should be seamless to the patient.”