By Paul Shorrosh, CEO and founder, AccuReg.
Healthcare consumers (aka “your patients”) have easily purchased goods and services on the Web for years and now expect that level of ease with their healthcare experience. So, what’s the problem? Unfortunately, the healthcare industry lags at least a decade behind e-commerce giants like Amazon and travel industry leaders like Expedia that set the standard for intuitive, consumer-friendly online engagement.
Now, more than ever, patients are demanding the same conveniences from their healthcare, but the specialized tools needed to deliver an excellent patient financial experience are missing from many EHRs.
The simple truth is EHRs were developed to help physicians and other clinicians manage clinical data, not promote and encourage consumerism. Currently, most EHRs are not optimized to provide the administrative, financial or customer engagement solutions needed to transform time-consuming and manual administrative and financial interaction into safe, efficient, digital information exchange. Hospitals and health systems can add a complementary system to their EHR that can easily improve the non-clinical patient experience. Incorporating digital patient engagement into EHRs is a smart investment because it can help providers address the following operational pain points:
- Patient Demand: Patients want more control over their healthcare experience, yet there is a chasm between patient expectations and what healthcare organizations provide. More than 90% of patients said they would leave providers offering an inferior digital experience.
- Patient and Staff Safety: The pandemic led patients and staff to demand safer visits and access to virtual tools that reduce contact. It’s a catalyst for consolidating disparate vendors and upgrading functionality by utilizing a single, integrated platform for patient alerts, pre-registration, eligibility verification and price estimation.
- Efficiency: Embracing digital patient engagement technology means transferring many tasks registrars perform to patients, freeing those employees to perform higher-touch patient-centered activities.
- Government Policy: Forward-thinking hospitals embrace price transparency regulations not only for regulatory compliance but also to provide meaningful price insights patients want and deserve — a better patient financial experience.
- Pricing Pressure and Volume Shifts: Patients who obtain accurate price estimates will seek care where perceived quality is equal or better and provided at a lower cost. If you’re delivering value and can demonstrate it, you’ll attract and retain patients.
Many vendors solve one or two of these demands. In a common scenario, one vendor manages the EHR, while another provides online scheduling, pre-reg and registration services. A third offers communication tools such as automated appointment reminders, a digital front-door and a virtual waiting room while a fourth partner provides eligibility, guaranteed accurate patient cost estimates and point-of-service payment processing. This list can go on and on creating an ever-greater mishmash of vendors that exponentially adds to confusion, rework, and higher costs.
Conversely, a single solution that works in lockstep with a hospital’s EHR helps ensure healthcare organizations work more efficiently, collect what they are owed at the lowest cost and improve the patient experience. Such tools can also be a boon for improving population health. For instance, what if your hospital wants to communicate with all diabetes patients who missed their most recent checkup, or reach out to a defined group of patients to let them know an MRI machine is down so their appointment will be rescheduled, or remind patients to refill their prescriptions?
It’s past time for piecemeal solutions that don’t fully solve the healthcare consumerism challenge. Today, it’s imperative for healthcare organizations to fully commit to improving the consumer experience. Adopting a single-source digital solution that empowers patients and healthcare organizations will help hospitals and health systems provide the convenient, flexible digital experience patients now expect.