The new patient consumer mindset affects every step of the revenue cycle.
The organizations that will thrive in the future are those that understand many patients are turning into consumers that approach healthcare as a commodity. So, what does this new consumerism mean beyond patients shopping around for the best price? It means providing patients with the customer service they have come to expect from other industries at every step of the revenue cycle.
Even if a patient has had a wonderful in-office experience, a bad one while paying their bill may cause them to go elsewhere the next time, they need health services. What can the business-end of healthcare do to encourage patient retention? We will examine some of the crucial ways revenue cycle managers can ensure a positive patient experience.
- Be mindful that ‘behind the scenes’ activities can have a significant impact on patients
With the rising cost of healthcare, many patients are aware of every penny they spend – making payment posting accuracy essential. Posting payments quickly and correctly can make or break the relationship with a patient. It can be frustrating to patients when they receive a statement indicating they have not paid, when in fact they have. Additionally, researching payment can be nerve-wracking for both the patient and the healthcare provider. Unfortunately, even when payment is confirmed, this experience commonly undermines confidence in the treating physician. We suggest periodic audits of payment posting workflow and tracking complaints about missing payments to keep this vital part of the process running smoothly.
- Try to keep patient wait-times to a minimum
Would you wait on hold for 15 minutes to speak to a company about the computer they just sold you? You might… but chances are you would be a bit upset about the wait and perhaps consider a different company with better customer service in the future. Healthcare is notorious for long phone hold-times for making appointments and waiting days for pre-authorizations before procedures. We recommend our clients establish goals for phone and pre-authorization wait times and focus on workflow strategies to reach these goals.
- Accurate coding and avoiding denials are critical
Patients who receive an unexpected EOB denial or a statement with an unanticipated balance because of a denied claim can often react with anger about paying for the encounter. We all know that unforeseen denials happen. However, in cases where the denial is due to incorrect coding, the patient may come to question the competence of the healthcare provider as a result. Therefore, confirming you are using only experienced, trained and certified coders ensures a smooth claims cycle process and happier patients.
With the shift in patient responsibility for reimbursement, paying attention to the patient experience during the claims cycle is more important than ever. If you become aware of any issue that may affect patient experience, we encourage you to be proactive and share it with your client. This way, if patients complain to the office, your client can communicate that the problem was anticipated and will be resolved soon – which can go a long way to calm a patient’s nerves and make the post-visit experience a positive one.