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How Healthcare Practices Can Overcome Pressing Financial Challenges

The AHA recently wrote to congressional leaders warning that more than two-thirds of hospitals could be operating at a financial loss in 2022. Despite these warnings, hospitals are bracing for even more challenges during the upcoming “lame duck” Congress session. 

Stephen Dean, a healthcare CRM expert and co-founder of Keona Health, provided healthcare providers with some insights below about how to mitigate the upcoming financial challenges.

Optimizing operations with innovative tech tools

Labor costs are going through the roof, initiating a cycle of poorer patient care, which means healthcare has less money to handle staffing, which in turn worsens the operations for patient care. It is a downward spiral that hospitals are desperate to break.

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One solution is to utilize technology that reduces the reliance on staffing. Particularly important are tools related to patient access, since this is the doorway to care and often the weakest link for driving revenue. 

“This is a big problem for everyone,” Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), told Contemporary OB/GYN of the staffing shortages. “Health care is as much impacted as every industry is across the globe at this time.”

“The MGMA has heard that 88% of medical practices [have] had difficulties recruiting front-of-office staff,” added Fischer-Wright.

Automation solutions relieve the burden on staff, allowing more to happen with fewer staff. These solutions come in two forms.

The first: tools that automate staff tasks. 

To automate tasks, these are the primary tools: Healthcare CRM (customer relationship manager), Revenue Cycle Management, and Automated Check-in. 

This is what a cutting-edge, AI-powered healthcare CRM looks like inside the call center: When a patient calls, the Clinical AI automatically retrieves all necessary patient and provider data—a 360-degree view—so that access staff can immediately start helping the patient. The AI-software then guides staff members through the entirety of the call until a successful resolution. Phone staff can thus, with speed and precision, give each and every patient superior care, consultation, and scheduling. Contact center staff equipped with Clinical AI are able to handle 25% more calls per hour thanks to their streamlined processes. Average handle time drops by 40%, training time drops by 75%, and after-call work drops by 25%.

The second access tool: patient self-service solutions. This means the healthcare CRM can facilitate online patient self-scheduling, which both increases total appointments and takes an enormous burden off phone staff, because every self-scheduled appointment is a call that staff don’t have to handle. The premier self-scheduling solutions can offload 25-40% of all appointment scheduling to patient self-scheduling.

How to report and monitor hospital data to make informed decisions

If the healthcare CRM is sophisticated enough to unite two holistic sets of information—Patient 360 and Provider 360—a detailed database of patient information and provider information, respectively, then this empowers hospitals to make the best decisions for both patients and providers without needing to search through a complex mix of tools, apps, and EHRs. Everything they need—a 360-degree view of patients and providers—is available to healthcare staff in real-time.

Why telehealth is a vital tool in overcoming financial challenges

Scheduling errors, delays in care, and no-shows create gaps in revenue as much as they create gaps in care. The explosive rise of telehealth and healthcare consumerism haven’t come without their downsides, chief among them rising patient no-show rates and missed appointments.

According to an MGMA Stat poll, 49% of respondents said patient no-shows have grown since 2021. That comes on the heels of a prior MGMA poll, where 44% of respondents said no-shows were their biggest challenge, in regards to scheduling, for their medical practice.

Clearly, patients must be physically present for procedures, labs, and the most complex aspects of patient care. What many miss, is that telehealth workflows are, by definition, the processes and tasks performed by medical professionals remotely. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) includes long distance administration and patient education in the definition of telehealth

The truth is that patients often refuse to come in for anything but what is absolutely necessary. This puts call center agents, telephone nurses, medical assistants, and operations managers at the center of today’s telehealth challenges. 

Features of sophisticated telehealth patient access

Appointment scheduling: Telehealth workflow management software can intelligently schedule appointments, which reduces or eliminates the need for phone staff—and streamlines phone staff workflows.

Logistics, business intelligence, and information technology: Manually managing logistics drains time, resources, and revenue from medical providers. AI-powered telehealth software automatically organizes information, which takes an enormous burden off of logistics staff and allows providers to create data-based marketing campaigns.

Automated patient engagement: Staff don’t need to call patients with appointment reminders or email patients with important educational information. The telehealth software automatically carries out these and other engagement tasks.

HIPAA compliance: The telehealth software has built-in HIPAA compliance. Many telehealth processes are made sluggish because employees must ensure—before, during, and after every task—that they are meeting HIPAA regulations and thus not putting the provider in legal jeopardy or, even worse, risking patient safety.

Benefits of sophisticated telehealth patient access

Optimized scheduling and fewer no-shows: Every scheduling slot gets filled, and patients get SMS reminders with links for rescheduling or canceling, which reduces missed appointments.

Exceptional patient loyalty: Because patients, thanks to streamlined workflows, receive superior care, they are not only healthier, but happier. And happy patients are loyal patients.

Reduced operating costs and more revenue: The end result of optimizing complex telehealth processes with AI-powered software is obvious: more revenue.

Less medical errors: Automating steps in the workflow process greatly reduces the chance of human errors. Errors plague providers who rely on manual management of complex workflows. 

Automating workflows reduces mistakes, which in turn improves productivity and patient safety.

Optimized clinical communication: A telehealth software solution optimizes communication between patients and staff. Because the staff are equipped with an AI-assistant, patients don’t spend precious minutes waiting on hold or playing phone tag. Calls are shorter, and first call resolution is higher.

Legal compliance and risk reduction: Because the automation technology has built-in compliance mechanisms, legality and patient safety are assured at all times. The staff need not exhaust themselves manually maintaining HIPAA protocols.

Healthcare Business Today is a leading online publication that covers the business of healthcare. Our stories are written from those who are entrenched in this field and helping to shape the future of this industry. Healthcare Business Today offers readers access to fresh developments in health, medicine, science, and technology as well as the latest in patient news, with an emphasis on how these developments affect our lives.

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