Published in RevCycleIntelligence
COVID-19 has radically changed and impacted nearly every aspect of our daily lives. From social distancing and self-quarantines to employment and home stability, the pandemic is forcing everyone to rethink how they get things done. The healthcare industry is no different. Doctors, practice managers, and providers are thinking critically about how they can still focus on the same great care and patient financial experience at a time when nothing feels normal.
However, the healthcare industry is one of great imagination and ideas, and even in these uncertain times, this presents opportunities for innovation. Even before COVID-19, it was clear that patients desire the same consumer-driven options they receive from other industries. This idea of “healthcare consumerism” means that organizations must provide services and bill in a convenient, secure format that carefully preserves the distinctive patient-provider business relationship. In this new age of COVID-19 — and the prevailing feeling of a lack of control — this push for customer-focused efficiency couldn’t come at a better time.
That being said, if healthcare organizations are determined to make the leap towards a satisfying, retail-like consumer experience for patients, they may want to start by simplifying the most prevalent source of friction and confusion — the patient financial experience — while also addressing the key factors of staying viable under new social and public health mandates.
To successfully ride the consumerism wave and balance the high levels of patient satisfaction that support value-based reimbursement with new needs for social distancing, healthcare organizations must view their financial processes through their patients’ eyes. Then, they must reduce points of friction — defined as any negative aspect affecting the consumer experience
Mobile phones have become a staple in consumer lives. Apple realized that its customers preferred to pay for transactions with their phones because using a credit card created friction. Therefore, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, and other financial mobile apps have been successful in reducing the friction of financial transactions. But they also represent a way to keep people safe during transactions and interactions.
By harnessing contactless payments through mobile pay, both patient and provider can stay safe without interruption during the billing cycle.
By removing common sources of friction, this kind of technology helps create harmonious financial relationships reflective of the patient-centered clinical care delivered by providers. That’s increasingly important, given the rise in reimbursement models that tie hospital and health system reimbursement to overall patient satisfaction.
Implement patient-focused financial strategies
Reducing friction, emphasizing safety, and strengthening the patient-provider business relationship requires engaging in patient-focused financial conversations from pre-registration through post-discharge. By helping patients understand what they owe — and why — hospitals and health systems can keep them from being blindsided and upset by unexpected bills. Here are a few strategies to do that:
Simplify, engage, and grow
Aligning the healthcare revenue cycle with consumer needs and demands is key, particularly in the rapidly changing world of COVID-19. Engaging patients throughout the financial process with mobile technology can help hospitals and health systems sustain their own fiscal well-being while providing a satisfying, retail-like experience to patients.
As care increasingly expands out into the community — into retail clinics, schools, mobile units, and more — these efforts have the potential to better and even save patient lives. But to do so, healthcare organizations will need a transparent, patient-centered approach that mirrors the conveniences found in other industries. Anywhere healthcare is delivered, the right financial management tools can help simplify the patient experience and strengthen the unique patient-provider business relationship.