Derek Stein, RevSpring

Derek Stein,

Today’s patients have more sources for information, more healthcare options, and higher expectations for quality care. Or as Emmi Solutions puts it, “passive patient populations are a thing of the past.” So how do health systems respond to the growing consumerism in the marketplace and remain competitive?

The ROI of engaged patients

A recent article from HFMA magazine highlights the significant ROI potential of a well-executed patient engagement strategy.

After implementing pre-visit and post-visit multimedia engagement solutions, Summa Health System:

  • Improved the patient experience significantly (based on HCAHPS ratings).
  • Received 100 percent of its 2012 pay for performance incentive from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

However, with some notable exceptions, health systems have yet to embrace the financial rewards patient engagement presents to the nonclinical interactions within the revenue cycle.

The opportunity for RCM professionals

Of all the patient communications during a healthcare encounter, the revenue cycle interactions are the most familiar to patients.

Scheduling appointments, managing accounts, paying for services, and interacting with customer service representatives are commonplace in industries outside of healthcare – giving patients a clear benchmark with which to judge your performance.

And as we already know, a positive billing and payment experience can influence how patients assess their overall quality of care. But by leveraging data and new technologies, health systems can extend their influence beyond the payment experience – empowering patients to be more proactive when scheduling, managing, and paying for their healthcare services.

While there’s no definitive approach to implementing a patient engagement strategy, there are a few things RCM professionals should keep in mind when looking for areas to improve:

1.       Connect with patients on their own terms

The key to empowering patients, is giving them access to their care, on their own terms. Within the revenue cycle, this means giving patients access to your communications and self-service applications via more convenient devices and channels (i.e. smartphones, tablets, IVR).

2.       Set specific metrics for success and ROI

As with any investment, you should define how your organization will measure success. Some examples include:

  • Improved HCAHPS ratings
  • Receiving 100 percent of pay for performance incentives
  • Reduced A/R days or unnecessary patient calls

Don’t forget that patient engagement solutions can often help you automate your current processes. So be sure to measure the gained efficiencies and cost savings of your investment.

3.       Adjust your workflow(s) accordingly

Introducing new technologies can impact your current workflow and processes. Be sure to account for adjustments or changes you can make to your current workflow to maximize the effectiveness of your patient engagement strategy.

Best practices for revenue cycle include the ability to reach patients across multiple channels after the care experience. If your current partner does not offer this ability, it may be time to consider a strategic change.

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