Every healthcare organization is suffering financially amidst COVID-19. The only question is how much they are suffering. While everyone is dealing with the challenges brought on by COVID-19, there are a number of things healthcare organizations can do now to make sure that their organization recovers from the financial impacts and is well positioned to thrive in the future. Here are four I think every healthcare organization should be doing.
It is well known in business circles that it is much harder to achieve profitability and a successful organization by cutting costs than it is by improving revenues. The problem is that you can only squeeze so much out of costs. This is particularly true in healthcare where many of the costs are fixed and required by law.
Certainly, in healthcare you must be careful approaching the idea of increasing revenue. Doing this the wrong way can be seen as trying to profit off patients or as trying to churn through patients in pursuit of the almighty dollar. However, there are completely ethical and appropriate ways to optimize revenue for your organization while not taking advantage of patients.
For example, looking at your physician documentation, claims process, etc. can often yield big returns in revenue to your organization where you are literally just being paid for the work you legitimately did, but just documented something incorrectly. Another great area of revenue leakage is in denied claims. It is often surprising to see how many denied claims do not get fixed and resubmitted.
A similar revenue benefit is available for patient payments. Even doing small things like sending patient statements electronically with an online payment option will reduce patient A/R dramatically. One study shared that 10 percent of your 60-90 day patient A/R is the cost associated with that A/R. For MGMA practices, that averaged to $5,000 per month. Fix your patient payment process and your organization will benefit greatly.
We all know how telehealth was implemented in most of healthcare. It is defined by one word: Rushed! I am not suggesting this is a problem or was a bad choice. It was what was required by the situation. The problem is that a rushed implementation almost never means an optimized implementation. Poorly implemented telehealth is how I would describe many organizations.
Plus, telehealth is one of the most exciting areas of healthcare technology right now and so it is receiving literally billions of dollars of investment to make it better. Over the next few months there is an opportunity for every healthcare organization to benefit from looking at how they can better optimize their telehealth and what new features and best practices have come out that they can now take advantage of in their implementation.
The reality is that amidst COVID-19 doctors, staff, and patients were all quite forgiving when it came to telehealth. Everyone knew it was a crisis and so we all adapted and forgave each other when there were problems or less than optimal workflows. Now, doctors are burnt out, staff is burnt out, and patients are burnt out. Combine that with a telehealth solution that is not optimized, and you are just asking for trouble.
The opposite is also true. Optimize your telehealth and find happier patients, happier doctors, and happier staff.
Two-Way Connection with Patients
COVID-19 has created a fundamental change in every healthcare organization when it comes to appointment check in. Physical distancing requirements have made the future waiting room digital and the need for digital check-in essential. While there have been a lot of creative efforts to solve this, the most effective solution is creating a two-way communication connection with patients. In most cases, this is texting with patients.
While having the ability for patients to text when they have arrived for an appointment is valuable to the new digital check-in workflow, the ability to communicate with the patient has also been useful to let the patient know what the new check-in process would be. While this can be done with some one-way communication options, the 2-way connection with patients allows a healthcare organization to communicate important information and patients to ask needed questions in an efficient manner. No patient wants to wait on hold anymore and no doctor or staff wants to play phone tag.
Going beyond the new digital check-in, a 2-way connection to the patient will be even more valuable as the healthcare system transitions to value based care. The core of value-based care will require a 2-way channel of communication to ensure patients are getting the care they need. Plus, even in the interim, this communication channel can be used to encourage missed wellness visits and other follow up visits that will help with revenue challenges today.
Amazing Patient Experiences
Creating an amazing experience for your patients is never more valued than it is now. We are all struggling with personal and professional challenges and so those organizations that provide us amazing experiences will be remembered well after this crisis passes.
Plus, now that telehealth has exploded, a slew of direct to consumer telehealth companies have become competitors with traditional healthcare. Although, they are not saddled with all the overhead of traditional healthcare and are solely focused on creating an amazing consumer experience.
While direct to consumer telehealth has a great opportunity, so do traditional healthcare organizations that take a hard look at the experiences they provide their patients. If you treat patients like a cog in a wheel, then why wouldn’t they explore another wheel like telehealth? Instead, if you provide patients personalized care from a doctor they know and trust, that is an experience that can be hard to replicate virtually.
While the world has changed, change always brings new opportunities. Invest in these four opportunities and your healthcare organization will be well prepared to not only recover but also be well positioned to be successful in the future.
If you're looking for guidance on how to use two-way text with patients or effectively implement the best workflows for telehealth, we've got you covered with these guides: