By Kristen Jacobsen, Vice President, Marketing and Product Management – RevSpring
Patients are five times more likely to select or stay with a healthcare practice where they have had—or know someone who has had—a positive experience. This is exciting news, particularly as more healthcare organizations are focusing considerable resources on the patient experience. They are investing in one connected and patient-centric experience, with new senior-level leaders leading the charge. Patient experience leaders are building journey maps, focused on ease and clarity, and working to unify various leaders and technologies within their healthcare organizations.
Their goal? Ensuring a positive patient experience from beginning to end—regardless of which digital doorway a patient might use to enter their system—all with an eye toward delighting patients and building their loyalty, increasing revenue in the process.
In the past, it was left to various department visionaries to collaborate on providing a cohesive positive patient experience. Without connected technology, however, leaders in marketing, patient access, revenue cycle, IT and other departments did not have a singular view of the patient experience. The effort to connect all aspects of the patient experience into one positive branded experience was stymied by disparate technologies, systems and workflows. This is now changing thanks to a growing understanding of the importance of interoperability among vendors and healthcare systems.
Creating One Connected Patient Experience
Recognizing the many digital doorways patients might use to enter your system is the first step toward connecting them for patients, including:
- Patient acquisition
- Price shopping
- Appointment preparation
- Patient access
- Patient Care Navigation
- Payment plans and financing
- Patient financial services
- And more!
A holistic understanding of the entire patient journey is the next frontier of patient experience. To make it happen, healthcare technology vendors must build products that are easy to integrate with other systems and products. This means billing statements, digital engagement, EMR/EHRs, call center systems, patient portals, payment devices, and back-end support systems all need to be made to work together, regardless of the vendor that makes them. Connected systems drive a connected patient experience.
I recently spoke with a healthcare experience executive who said her organization uses 36 separate systems, and all of them make some contribution to the patient experience. Like many experience evangelists, her goal is to minimize that to a strategic few. She understands the impact that reaching this goal will have on supportability, cost and, most critically, patient experience. When healthcare IT leaders choose technology that is purpose-built to work together and to be open, it is possible to connect all healthcare processes into one smooth, consistent and remarkable patient experience. In other words, a consistently branded experience.
It’s not unlike a retail experience. Think of your favorite retail brand. Mine is Target. With Target, you know what to expect. The stores are consistent from state to state, they understand my payment preferences, they remind me of products I’m considering, they ask me what I’d change about my experience, they know me if I call the call center. They know where I’ve been and they predict where I’m going.
Obviously, healthcare is more complicated than retail. Healthcare billing, for example, is more challenging than checking out at a Target store or on its website. Yet technology is closing healthcare customer service gaps at a surprisingly rapid rate for providers willing to embrace solutions with an open architecture.
What does this look like in healthcare today? Price estimation is among hundreds of examples where one unified view of the patient is dramatically improving the patient experience.
Consider what happens to the patient experience when healthcare systems are disconnected. The patient receives an estimate from her provider for $1,000. Based on this amount the analytics would indicate the patient has the propensity to pay in full. The actual bill comes in at $3,000. No one in the billing or customer service departments knows about the original estimate. The shocked patient calls customer service confused, concerned and looking for answers. The CSR must ask the patient to explain their experience and frustration rather than having the data and scripting to support the patient proactively. In this scenario, the healthcare system has created discord with its patient, possibly losing the patient (and payments) in the process. Why? The patient doesn’t feel known or supported.
Conversely, a connected patient experience empowers all the various departments to access the same information. And everyone knows how best to communicate with the patient based on her past behavior and experience. Assuming email is best for her, a message is emailed prior to the billing statement to let her know the actual amount due and why it is higher than the estimate. Perhaps a link is included so she can access detailed information explaining the bill online in a secure patient portal. Analytics would be engaged to help the provider know if the patient should be offered a payment plan and, if so, which terms would be best. Customer service representatives would have access to all of this information in case the patient decided to call and discuss setting up the payment plan.
Channel engagement is another example. Without a connected strategy, what we learn from patient behavior pre-service is locked in separate systems and processes that create discord when it comes to patient care plan adherence or billing. Simple preference indicators such as channel opt outs, and the channels patients consistently respond to, are key insights that can and should persist through the patient experience. Centralizing consent and channel analytics is key.
A true one-to-one experience is what patients want, and what we want for them. Always pursuing one view of the patient means everyone in your organization can learn from each patients’ characteristics and past behavior and be empowered to communicate with them in a consistent manner. This approach lets the patient know that you understand them, how they engage and what they prefer.
Healthcare consumers expect to be treated with the same ease and consistency that they experience in other industries. Healthcare organizations that combine empathy with a smart technology and process strategy are in a position to win the hearts and minds of their patients. There’s no better way to build trust, loyalty and profitability—and to prevent unhappy patients from walking out through the digital backdoor.
- Patients expect to experience their healthcare provider as one brand.
- Strategies used to engage patients should be consistent, including messages and prioritized channels.
- Create one connected patient experience by choosing engagement platforms that are multi-functional or that are intentionally designed to talk to each other.
- Use every bit of data you gather to tailor the patient experience so it’s clear to patients that you know them.
RevSpring leads the market in patient engagement and payment solutions that inspire patients to participate in and pay for their healthcare. The company has built the industry’s most comprehensive and impactful suite of patient engagement, OmniChannel communications and payment solutions backed by behavior analysis, propensity-to-pay scoring, contextual messaging, and user experience best practices. Using proprietary data analytics to tailor the engagement from preservice to post-service, RevSpring improves the patient experience and outcomes for providers and their patients. To learn more, visit revspringinc.com/healthcare.