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How to improve the patient financial experience and revenue cycle process

Becker's Hospital Review

This article first appeared in Becker's Hospital Review.

Patient financial management is no longer just a post-encounter, back-office effort. Modern patient financial management demands providers engage and educate patients about cost expectations as well as payment and financing options.

During a virtual roundtable discussion sponsored by CommerceHealthcare® as part of Becker's 6th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference, attendees discussed challenges and experiences with improving the patient financial experience. The roundtable featured panelists from CommerceHealthcare®, including Ward Svarvari, vice president and national healthcare executive.

Three learnings:

  1. Healthcare providers are using multiple technology and nontechnology channels to engage patients. Several roundtable attendees are using digital technology features, like healthcare portals, emails and text messaging to engage patients, and are trying to provide access across vendor solutions. "We're trying to have one interface with a patient and encourage them to use that platform with every vendor underneath that platform so it seems seamless to the patient," a revenue cycle operations executive from a Midwest health system said. At the same time, hospitals recognize that some patients do not have access to these technologies or prefer the more personal touches afforded by phone calls and in-person interactions. Providers need to manage communication preferences through multiple modes to ensure that patients are engaged and satisfied.
  2. Achieving a consistent, standardized patient experience is challenging. Integrating information from multiple healthcare information system vendors into a single portal patients can access is a major challenge. Some are also finding it difficult to create a standard process across the system, especially when multiple hospitals across different urban and rural regions are involved. One Pacific Northwest health system is consolidating multiple healthcare clinics, with a focus on creating consistency. "They operated in very different cultures," according to the health system's senior director of revenue cycle. Focusing on the financial success of these individual providers, he added, "Their ability and success at collecting copays was all over the board."
  3. Providers want to help patients understand their bills and deliver access to payment and financing options. Hospitals are training both general and financially focused customer service associates to help patients understand the cost of care and help them identify their payment options and financing programs. One small southern hospital works with an outside partner to open lines of credit for qualified patients. "By having that open line of credit, they had a higher probability of showing up for post-care treatments, like follow-up care and physical therapy," the hospital's director of patient financial navigation said.

Thank you to CommerceHealthcare® for sponsoring this virtual roundtable discussion as part of Becker's 6th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference. CommerceHealthcare® specializes in financial solutions for the healthcare industry. With services offered by Commerce Bank, CommerceHealthcare® offers hospitals solutions to support patient engagement, receivables management, accounts payable and investments. CommerceHealthcare® has collaborated with more than 500 hospitals and health systems across 47 states and has financed one billion dollars in patient loans since 2013.

To learn more about the event, click here