Improving the hospital-patient connect with better billing
We all hate hospitals. As a patient you don’t want to be there. As friends or family you don’t want to be there grieving or concerned about your near and dear ones. So given that a patient’s disposition is already pretty low, the last thing he or she wants to deal with is a painful billing procedure.
So what’s stopping hospitals, insurance companies and the various payer entities coming together to ensure a patient’s billing journey is simple, smooth and seamless?
In effect, it seems to be a mindset issue. Hospitals don’t seem to value patients (read customers) in the same way that say a hotel or a retailer would. It’s hard to fathom why this is so. As Micah Solomon, the noted customer service and patient experience consultant says, “Patients don’t stop being consumers …when they put on a hospital gown.”
And with competition so fierce, loyalty so fickle and social media channels ripe for reputation tarnishing, one would imagine healthcare providers going out of their way to ensure patients are well looked after – not just in terms of physical care but care extending to billing procedures as well.
Fortunately, the healthcare industry is realizing the need to improve its billing processes and as a result, greater patient satisfaction. However, one of the core issues of healthcare billing is the confusion surrounding the bill itself and where insurance claims come in.
In this regard, patient advocates, usually associated during the care process, are now commonly being used in the billing process too. From understanding and advising, to settling and following-up, such advocates are a significant part of the patient’s care journey, all the more so as it’s the billing process that is usually the final destination in the patient’s physical interaction with the provider.
Of course, there is a clear role that technology can play in both simplifying the process as well as synergizing the various segments that make up a bill. This can be done in a number of ways: by creating a real-time analytics dashboard, which is clear, easy-to- navigate and simple; by integrating claims and reducing the payment times; and by ensuring records are up-to- date and easily accessible through various tools and solutions.
For healthcare institutions, the digitization and automation of a number of processes can result in superior billing care. Using an Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution through a browser with app option can provide physicians with up-to- date patient information immediately and on-the- go. This can be beneficial not just for billing procedures but also for the entire patient journey i.e. appointment scheduling, tracking of visit interaction and follow-ups as well as query and grievance resolution.
Given that the billing process is such a significant part of a patient’s journey, it is imperative that effective and efficient systems are created. This may require an added cost factor in implementing new digital technology but in the long run, it will be worth the effort. The balance is to ensure patients are treated both professionally and humanely. And given the range of emotions that a hospital witnesses, healthcare providers need to go the extra mile for their ‘customers’ – or else they will opt to pay their bills elsewhere!