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RCM Tips And Tricks: To Collect More From Patients, Educate And Engage Them

Posted on November 1, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Hospitals face particularly difficult challenges when trying to collect on patient bills. When you mix complex pricing structures, varied contracts with health insurers and dizzying administrative issues, it’s hard to let patients know what they’re going to owe, much less collect it.

Luckily, RCM leaders can make major progress with patient collections if they adopt some established (but often neglected) strategies. In short, to collect more from patients you need to educate them about healthcare financial issues, develop a trusted relationship with them and make it easy for them to pay that bill.

As a thought exercise, let’s assume that most patients want to pay their bills, but may need encouragement. While nobody can collect money from consumers that refuse to pay, you can help the willing ones prepare for the bills they’ll get. You can teach them to understand their coverage. In some cases, you can collect balances ahead of time. Toss in some smart patient engagement strategies and you could be golden.

What will that look like in practice? Check out this list of steps hospitals can take to improve RCM results directly, courtesy of a survey of hospital execs by Becker’s Hospital Review:

  • Sixty-five percent suggested that telling patients the amount due before they come to an appointment would be helpful.
  • Fifty-two percent believe that having more data on patients’ likelihood to pay could improve patient collections results
  • Forty-seven percent said that speaking to clients in different ways depending on the state of the finances would help improve patient collections.
  • Forty-two percent said that offering customers payment plans would be valuable.

Of course, you won’t be doing this in a vacuum, and some of the trends affecting patient financial responsibility are beyond your control. For example, unless something changes dramatically, many patients will continue to struggle with high-deductible health coverage. Nobody – except the health insurers – likes this state of affairs, but it’s a fact of life.

Also, it’s worth noting that boosting patient engagement can be complicated and labor-intensive. To connect with patients effectively, hospitals will need to fight a war on many fronts. That means not only speaking to patients in ways they understand, but also offering well-thought-out hospital-branded mobile apps, an effective online presence and more. You’ll want to do whatever it takes to foster patient loyalty and trust. Though this may sound intimidating, you’ll like the results you get.

However, there are a few strategies that hospitals can implement relatively quickly. In fact, the Becker’s survey results suggest that hospitals already know what they need to do — but haven’t gotten around to it.

For example, 87% of hospital respondents said they had a problem with collecting co-pays before appointments, 85% said knowing how much patients can pay was important, and 76% of respondents said that simplifying bills was a problem for them. While it may be harder than it looks to execute on these strategies, it certainly isn’t impossible.

10 Key Hospital Website Findings

Posted on April 24, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Molly Gamble has a great article on Becker’s Hospital Review website where she takes a look at a report covering top hospital websites. She offers 10 great findings and points of analyses that I thought many would like to read:

1. Even top brands struggle.
2. Key findings:
•    49 percent of hospitals lacked a mobile patient website
•    67 percent failed to offer online rehabilitation and aftercare information
•    Only 1 in 5 had online pre-registration to reduce patient wait time
•    Nearly 1 in 3 failed to facilitate online bill pay
•    At least 18 percent had onsite errors that hindered the patient experience
•    Nearly 1 out of 2 hospitals did not support post-prescription refill requests online
3. Barriers systems face
4. The need for digital governance
5. The top 10 patient-centric hospital websites, according to the report, are:
•    Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.)
•    Cleveland Clinic
•    University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston)
•    Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston)
•    UPMC (Pittsburgh)
•    Duke Medicine (Durham, N.C.)
•    Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (Philadelphia)
•    Massachusetts Eye and Ear (Boston)
•    The Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York City)
•    Florida Hospital (Orlando)
6. Determining patient-friendliness.
7. Google results and brand reach.
8. Mayo Clinic did best in search results.
9. There is a distinction between patient- and brand-centric website content
10. The link between digital presence and spending.

In Molly’s article she covers each of these points in detail. So, if this interests you, check out the full article linked above. What do you think of these findings?

Study: Most Health Organizations Are Implementing HIEs

Posted on April 23, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

A study by revenue cycle management vendor Emdeon has concluded that most hospitals and medical practices are getting involved with HIEs, and that a majority of providers were implementing automated medication reconciliation, e-prescribing and EMRs.

To conduct the study, researchers spoke with 147 people from hospitals, large practices and small practices about their HIT practices, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

Eighty-eight percent of hospitals surveyed had fully implemented or were in the process of implementing health information exchange, Emdeon found.  Large practices were even more involved, with 94 percent of those surveyed having fully implemented or begun the process of implementing HIEs.  Even smaller practices were largely on board, despite their resource constraints, with 72 percent having fully or partially implemented HIE connectivity.

As for the other health IT initiatives studied, here’s a quick overview of what Emdeon found (stats courtesy of Becker’s):

Hospitals

* 77 percent have implemented or are on the way to implementing automated medication reconciliation
* 85 percent have partially or completely implemented EMRs
* 61 percent have partially or completely rolled out e-prescribing

Large Medical Practices

* 57 percent are implementing or have completed rollout of automated medication reconciliation
* 74 percent have partly or completely implemented EMRs
* 82 percent have partly or fully implemented e-prescribing

Small Medical Practices

* 55 percent have partly or fully implemented automated medication reconciliation
* 62 percent have partly or completely rolled out EMRs
* 62 percent have partly or fully rolled out e-prescribing