It is a strange paradox. As the healthcare industry transitions towards integrated, cost-effective business models, the revenue cycle of medical practices, has become more fragmented and expensive.
Payer reimbursement cuts, drastic increase in consumer payments and regulatory changes are challenging traditional, antiquated approaches to revenue cycle management. According to a survey by PwC, one in two, Americans, rate hospitals poorly, for affordability of services and price transparency.
To survive in the New Health Economy care providers should focus on patient care. But there are bills to be paid to keep the lights on! Fortunately, a healthy revenue cycle and good patient care needn’t be mutually exclusive terms any more. There are ways to build a strong and sustainable revenue cycle while still focusing on patient care. Here are five ways healthcare organizations can stay successful in the consumer directed healthcare environment.
5 ways you can drive up patient engagement and revenue cycle efficiency at your medical practice!
1. One in four claims are rejected due to insurance eligibility errors and incomplete information.
- Discuss with your patients about insurance details, coverage limitations and treatment options prior to their appointment. Maintaining a friendly relationship with patients will enable you to collect accurate eligibility information.
St. Luke’s hospital was able to increase collections by placing calls to patients, prior to their visit, and discuss price estimates. This system has helped the hospital in educating patients about their financial responsibility and has increased net collections.
2. Improve the patient billing experience. Straight out of a can patient statements and sporadic follow-up calls won’t work. Financially engaging patients is vital in the post-reform climate. High deductible health plans are posing a huge challenge to care providers. Explain the patient billing process and payment options before care begins and simplify the transaction as much as possible.
- Create patient statements that are unified. Translate complex codes into plain language
- Add financial details outside the episode of care such as co-pays and deductibles
- Discuss the financial responsibility of patients for high-value, pre-scheduled procedures.
- Provide payment options according to the convenience of patients. Offer several payment options such as net banking, cheque, credit card or internet banking.
- Offer different payment plans and educate patients on the same
- Create a financial assistance policy and a collaborative process built around your patient needs
3. Tired of handling no-shows? According to MGMA, medical practices experience an annual no-show rate of 5-8%. At an average of $150 per appointment the amount of dollars lost, can add up to thousands every year.
- Shoot a mail or talk to patients during their next appointment about how inconvenient no-shows are. Case in point.
- A physician group, based in Minnesota was struggling with no-shows and appointment scheduling inefficiencies. A personal mail by the provider to patients, who didn’t turn up, did the trick. The physician group was able to decrease no-shows and increase patient volume significantly.
- Sending remainder mails decrease non-attendance rates by as much as 36%, a study by the Internet Journal of Healthcare, states.
- Some medical practices reward patients who show up on time and offer a small discounts as well. By giving out small rewards to patients, healthcare organizations can not only reduce the number of no-shows but also build a loyal patient base.
4. Do you know that the possibility of collecting payment drops to 40% once the patient leaves your practice? Physician practices collect just 60% of patient co-payments.
- Train patient access staff to collect more at the front-desk. In the current environment medical practices cannot afford to be lax about patient financials.
A San Diego based healthcare provider installed 27 kiosks across its 11 clinics. The kiosks were put up to increase patient engagement. The surprise upshot of installing the kiosks was that an increasing number of patients started paying overdue bills. Following a similar strategy in your organization can not only boost patient engagement but also make sure you collect patient payments without much of an effort.
5. Human resources amount for 56% of a provider organization’s operational costs.
- Reduce cost-to-collect and improve net collections by empowering patients. Patient self-management can be the answer to some of the most puzzling questions care providers face. Encourage patients to enter data into their own records, educate them on patient portals and help them devise a plan to handle their healthcare costs.
A 2012 survey states that 79% of respondents would like healthcare organizations to conduct patient interactions online or through mobile phones.
Small steps in the right direction can help physician practices, to develop an architecture that increases patient engagement and improves the efficiency of their revenue cycle.