Today’s patients are tech savvy with an expectation that the healthcare market is as adept at applying technology as other industries with which they interface. Patients also feel more empowered to be self-determining with their care, and no longer blindly go to whichever provider or for whatever services they are referred. In addition, as the cost of care increasingly shifts to patients, they are justifiably considering cost, questioning prices, shopping for the most economical provider, and demanding cost transparency.
As a result, the patient/consumer experience has become critical for providers to retain patients as a defensive strategy, or to leverage a competitive advantage in attracting new patients in a competitive marketplace. Satisfied patients are not only more likely to stay with you, but also to be your best marketers, through positive word of mouth, online commentary and referring friends and family. There is also data which supports a positive correlation between patient satisfaction and staff engagement. From an operational standpoint, increased patient satisfaction can increase productivity since your providers and staff will spend less time dealing with complaining patients.
Improving patient experience can manifest in a number of ways. Leveraging the combined functionality of patient portals, EMRs and system automation is a key element in meeting patient demand for self-service, engagement in their care, staff efficiency/productivity and ultimately patient satisfaction.
Through their electronic connection with your system, patients can easily select the provider and an appointment time of their choice, while also populating insurance information on their own to determine the eligibility for an estimate of cost of services. This patient driven process also populates this information in the practice management system, from which the billing team can more accurately and quickly process authorizations, charges and claims. Allowing the system to perform these functions through automated processes, like authorization and eligibility checks, increases efficiency and reduces the manual intervention, allowing office staff to prioritize their tasks. Automated real time authorization uses the appointment, insurance and eligibility information entered in the practice management system to determine if an authorization is needed, then sends the authorization request on to the insurance for approval. Insurance authorizations can be electronically accepted with no manual intervention. This allows office staff to work on an exception basis, correcting visits that fail the automation process or are denied. Patients highly value the resulting prompt, clear and actionable communications. All this information will be stored in the practice management system and be readily accessible to registration and billing staff. In addition, much of the information can be seen by the patient on the patient portal.