By T. Scott Law Sr., CPA
Healthcare clinicians have noticeably been fast adopters of new technology in recent years, ushering in the latest in telemedicine solutions, wearable medical devices, predictive analytics, and other advances in a precise and effective manner. Meanwhile, healthcare administrators have been understandably slower to transform due to stringent compliance and regulatory challenges.
In some cases, patients are also reluctant to embrace new technology in healthcare. One survey found that AI is catching on, but patients value a balanced approach that synthesizes technology and human connection in their clinical care and billing.
But times are changing, and the era of digital transformation in healthcare arrives with a hearty dose of personal interaction. According to the “Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2021” report, 81% of healthcare executives surveyed indicated the pace of digital transformation was increasing in their organizations. These findings come at a time when patients desire a more retail-like experience from their providers. These expectations — paired with other technological advances — are driving phenomenal enhancements in the overall patient financial experience.
What’s behind the rapid embrace of digital healthcare tools? Providers have simplified care delivery by using technology to improve patient experiences, especially during the pandemic. Technology lets patients schedule appointments or change insurance information with ease, and they can use multiple payment options (e.g., credit cards, Apple Pay, payment links) via text message and secure patient portals.
Technology also enables the price transparency that’s been lacking in healthcare, allowing consumers to make informed decisions about treatments and procedures that could impact their finances for decades. Add in omnichannel communications that enable patients to connect with their providers via text message, email, live chat, and phone calls, and it’s clear that healthcare is making strides toward the digital future.
While digital healthcare tools enable providers to deliver a better patient experience, not all solutions are created equal. To ensure that the use of technology in healthcare is accessible, seamless, and dependable, follow these four steps:
1. Consider the Analytics of Data
There are massive amounts of data in healthcare, but it’s not all functional. Providers need to collect the right patient data — including their financial analytics — to monitor revenue cycles actively and bring finances into focus. In this way, data can inform operational action points that improve revenue cycle management (RCM) and allow organizations to provide high-quality, harmonious care.
2. Refresh Front-End Information Collection
Resourceful front-end solutions help providers optimize revenue while reducing friction for patients. Providers should consider tools that streamline patient registration, facilitate scheduling, automate insurance collection, and make pricing fully transparent. At the same time, dictation tools and AI solutions can reduce the burnout-inducing administrative demands on providers while allowing them to spend more time with patients.
3. Reduce Back-End Bottlenecks
With intelligent RCM solutions that use automation, machine learning, and other data-driven tools, providers can reduce denials and optimize reimbursements on claims. These tools help claims get resolved quickly and effectively. When patients have a clear grasp of their financial responsibilities, they can focus on healing instead of worrying about unknown or unforeseen billing scenarios.
4. Listen to Feedback
Regular feedback from patients, clinicians, and staff will quickly reveal the strengths and weaknesses of technological implementations. It’s a good idea to schedule a quarterly pulse check with RCM providers and clinicians to help identify ways to improve KPIs, such as revenue optimization and patient experience.
Ask patients about their transaction experiences, focusing on the variety of communication methods, ease of completing payments, and quality of resources and assistance. Meanwhile, check with providers about the people, processes, and technologies behind their RCM solution to figure out how they work together and improve every aspect of their business. A smooth billing process for patients and providers will go a long way toward transforming the healthcare experience.
Digital transformation in healthcare will continue, but that doesn’t mean all new technologies carry the same weight. Providers should consider consumers, which means prioritizing digital healthcare tools that unequivocally improve the patient experience.
T. Scott Law Sr., CPA, is the founder and CEO of Zotec Partners. His mission is to partner with healthcare providers and their patients to simplify the business of healthcare and continually innovate the patient financial experience. Scott graduated from Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.