Healthcare leaders are realizing the financial benefits associated with addressing consumers’ expectations and creating positive patient experiences. Recent research1 found that hospitals with higher patient experience scores are generally more profitable than those with lower scores. And hospitals with more positive patient-experience scores ranked higher in certain quality scores than those hospitals with lower patient experience scores.
By taking a focused, systematic approach, you can make real measurable progress, with happier patients and more engaged and satisfied physicians.
There is a logical and actionable path to delivering the optimal patient access experience. Following these six steps can put your organization on the path to success:
Your technology and systems should drive efficiency, not create complications. As a result, you should consider retiring your patchwork system of bolt-on applications that slows registration and financial clearance. Deploying a single, integrated front-end solution will streamline processes and automate workflow — and ultimately get patients registered in a few minutes, with a few clicks. By streamlining pre-registration and arrival tasks for scheduled appointments, you’ll free your staff to more effectively handle non-scheduled events and complete the process in less time.
With any technology selection, it’s important to evaluate the total cost of ownership, ease of adoption by staff members, and the ability to integrate into other systems and processes to help ensure you’re making the right decision to ease the workload on staff to better focus on patient care.
Manual data entry is an inefficient task that tries the tolerance of patients and carries a huge cost. Strive to automate 60 percent or more of manual work efforts to reduce registration-related errors and improve accuracy of cost estimation (insurance and patient portion). Estimate the appropriate time and method to request payments from patients and standardize critical steps in the registration process.
Maximizing your investment in more efficient and automated technology requires an ongoing investment in training. Staff members who are comfortable and confident with the technology they are using will not only be more efficient, they will also engage in more positive ways with patients. To assure that new staff members get up to speed quickly, document and illustrate the processes impacted by new technology, and consider change management initiatives. Ongoing development also allows for continuous improvement of technology and processes by listening to the feedback from your patient access staff. They are one of the best sources for new ideas as they are dealing directly with your patient population.
Prepare for patients by beginning registration tasks for scheduled appointments at least three days prior to patient arrival. Set a goal to complete 95 percent of registrations for scheduled appointments prior to arrival. This will reduce last-minute setbacks for both patients and physicians. Integration equals efficiency so it makes sense to look for ways to centralize functions related to patient access. Call centers can be centralized to more seamlessly complete the pre-registration of scheduled appointments. You can also leverage the same interface across centralized operations and on-site staff to encourage a seamless handoff and create greater transparency around remaining tasks.
Hospitals and patients are united on this point: They don’t like to be surprised by the cost of care. As patient responsibility increases, it is critical that providers go beyond verifying eligibility and benefits and begin to create sound liability estimations. Combined with propensity to pay scoring, patient payment portals, payment plan and financing options, this greatly increases collections and reduces the effort on accounts receivable while providing more transparency for patients.
Consistent improvement to patient access requires that registration staff have ready access to holistic real-time information into patient medical history and current status in the registration process. Integrated systems with dashboard views offer clear visibility into registration tasks, future appointments and productivity levels help to prioritize work and make patient access activities more efficient. Efficient workflows such as these can enable effective performance management programs to evaluate and measure individual performance and optimize productivity.
Improving patient access is a journey. By taking a focused, systematic approach, you can make real measurable progress, with happier patients and more engaged and satisfied physicians — and you will see real benefits to your bottom line and in the morale and efficiency of your staff.