I got into Healthcare Finance after Nursing because it was a great opportunity to challenge myself and assist patients in a different way. I like identifying process issues or problems, making adjustments, and seeing improvement. That daily challenge keeps me passionate about receivables and healthcare.
The Patient Experience is Paramount and Expectations are Changing
The patient experience is crucial in recruiting and retaining a strong patient base. If a patient has a bad experience in clinical or non-clinical areas, they will not continue to choose your facility.
Patient experience has changed in that patients now expect quality service in an immediate time frame. They want to be greeted with a smile and have everything planned prior to their arrival. Most patients do not want to wait in Access areas. They want to know what their financial responsibility will be prior to receiving services, because their insurance is leaving more of a burden on them. And, they want to take more ownership of their care. Providers need to make sure that patients have every piece of information they need prior to their arrival. Ensure that the point of service experience is just as warm and caring as the clinical care the patient receives.
Starting Over with New Processes Built Around the Consumer
At Williamson Medical Center, we are in the process of breaking the old habits and revamping the entire process. We want to focus on the patient, not the task. We want the patient to walk in and simply check-in without the cumbersome Registration process on the day of service. A patient needs to know that their procedure is scheduled, insurance is verified, and authorizations are received. They also need to have their estimated responsibility ahead of time and be pre-registered. My advice is to put the emphasis on Patient Access. Make sure that the Mission and Vision of the Patient Access Department aligns with what the rest of the facility is trying to accomplish.
We are in a consumer-driven industry that is influenced by cost more than ever before. Volumes of patient calls and patient questions are higher than they have ever been and the expectations are greater than any time before in healthcare.
Education and Technology to Provide Patient Information Simpler; Sooner
Facilities must make sure they can give the consumer the information they need, when they want it, without speaking to five different people. Technology can be leveraged to assist in the ongoing burden of staff to get the information needed. Over the last few years our industry has been inundated with technology platforms that offer insurance verification, patient estimates, medical necessity checkers, pre-registration portals, online bill pay options, and so on.
These are no longer optional tools that should be thought of as a luxury, but a necessity that will allow our industry to get the patient what they want when they want it. However, with the new technologies and process changes comes the responsibility to educate the public and the physician practices in our areas to help them understand the benefits of these process changes. This education can lead to patients being more prompt in providing accurate and timely information prior to their arrival to ensure they can quickly be seen without any hurtles or surprises.
Thought Leadership will Change Patient Culture in Healthcare
Patients and their expectations are changing, we need thought leadership: ideas and best practices. We need to understand the culture of the client and the customer. We need to spend time building the relationship with the client and focusing on the things that are important to the client. In our industry, cash is king, but trust, dignity, and respect are all needed when dealing with the client and the consumer. Beyond this, we need to deliver consistent communication and reporting, quality service, and produce results.
What We’re Doing Differently at Williamson Medical Center
Williamson Medical Center is a high touch, customer-focused facility that truly cares about the patients overall experience. The overall culture here is second to none and the leadership has the vision and direction to lead. I am blessed to be surrounded by good people – I enjoy my team, co-workers, and leaders the most. The people make the culture.
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