Happy Patients, Maximum Revenue? No Longer Mutually Exclusive: Part 1 of 3

September 11, 2014

 

A three-part discussion covering the leading trends in revenue cycle management for radiologists.

In today’s new healthcare landscape, patient satisfaction and revenue cycle management are not mutually exclusive goals. Over the next three posts, we will discuss how radiologists can successfully address both issues.

The primary driver of these changing dynamics is the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which to date has provided healthcare access for roughly 20 million Americans – many for the very first time.
As a result, providers are competing to treat all of these new patients, who also have unparalleled access to healthcare customer service data via social media and other online search tools like Healthgrades.com.

We believe that imaging centers in particular are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the fast-changing dynamics in healthcare. At first glance, patient choice could be seen as a roadblock to success for radiology practices in this new environment. However, we believe the true barrier to success lies within patient access errors. When imaging centers do not employ best practices from the beginning of each patient interaction, the entire process fails to deliver satisfaction and obtain maximum profit.

Here are our suggested steps to achieve both:

Be proactive. Patient information should be resolved before check in. Imaging centers can utilize tools that combine appointment reminders with a link to the online version of their medical history and personal information forms via a secure connection.

Employ tools that reduce overhead burden and improve patient communications. Look for web-based portals that offer features such as credit card storage, soft payment reminders, secure messages and mobile access. Automated payment channels such as pay-by-phone can decrease human error, reduce hiring costs and offer a level of convenience that is sure to increase patient satisfaction.

Make paying easy. Point-of-sale payment systems, web-based payment estimation tools and payment plans all limit sticker shock and manage expectations, which undoubtedly boosts patient satisfaction. We believe that the percentage of bills paid the first time will invariably increase as the difficulty of bill pay decreases.

Get feedback. Process standardization can take time, but it is much more effective with input from patients. Lines of communication should always remain open so that consumers can readily voice concerns or compliments. Additionally, imaging centers should solicit ratings regarding their delivery of care via surveys.

More than 50% of claims that payers deny occur due to mistakes made during the patient engagement process, according to MGMA. As long as imaging centers remain vigilant from the beginning, profits and patient happiness will remain at the highest levels.