Author: Kylie Kaczor MSN-RN, CPCO, CPHRM, CASC, CMPE, CLSSBB, ACHE Senior Vice President, Clinical and Regulatory Affairs.
Kelsey Moore, CPCO, Manager, Ancillary Services, Regulatory Affairs Specialist
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of healthcare technologies focused on improving the patient experience while delivering on the expectation of accessible healthcare. According to Rock Health’s H1 2021 digital health funding report, the total venture capital investment into the digital health space in the first half of 2021 totaled $14.7 billion, which is more than all of the investment in 2020 ($14.6 billion) and nearly twice the investment in 2019 ($7.7 billion). The pandemic has undoubtedly altered the way healthcare is delivered. From new patient care workflows to organizational changes, ASCs were forced to adapt to new challenges while remaining compliant with legal guidance and remaining profitable. During 2020, a successful organization was defined by its ability to adapt to consumers’ changing expectations and needs. Aligning your ASC with the ever-changing needs of the patient will be crucial in the coming years. Drawing from the experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic, ASCs should re-evaluate front-end operations and price transparency tools while looking to implement new technologies focused on meeting the modern patient’s needs.
Following a year met with uncertainty and confusion, one best practice to improve patient experience and build trust in your ASC is investing in financial counseling and accurate quoting of patient responsibility. A positive or negative experience related to the cost of care received and subsequent medical billing has a direct impact on the patient’s perception of care received because the billing process is often the first and the last interaction the patient has with an ASC. According to research from Fierce Healthcare, patient satisfaction ratings fall by an average of more than 30 percent from post-discharge through the billing process. Being thorough in your collection process at time of service will allow patients to focus solely on their recovery after care without facing continued financial burden. In addition, if you explain your patients’ financial responsibility and provide an accurate quote to your patients at time of service and they are able to make an educated decision to move forward with services, that is often a strong indicator that they understand their role and are comfortable with their financial responsibility.
ASCs can be proactive to meet price transparency initiatives by investing in front-end operations that will ensure compliance with newer legislative actions and provide the supportive and accurate information needed to discuss customized financial responsibility with their patients during financial counseling. With patient responsibility posing a challenge throughout the healthcare industry, many facilities are looking to price transparency tools to assist patients in making healthcare decisions. Policymakers are also in agreement that price transparency is essential to the patient experience and recently passed legislation in some states that would require health care providers to make costs and other information available to consumers via their websites or other direct means. This mimics the trend we are seeing with hospital price transparency; an initiative that is sure to make its way to the ASC setting in the future.
Patients that were not utilizing online solutions were quickly required to adapt to these modes for safety reasons. Now that patients have become accustomed to these new practices, with many even preferring these changes, it is crucial to ensure your ASC is prepared to incorporate technology that will streamline financial counseling and price transparency education. One way to incorporate technology while providing patients with transparency of healthcare costs is to offer an online payment option through a portal or other mode. Some recent research suggests that patients are displaying an overwhelming willingness to pay health care bills online and via mobile devices with 80% of patients preferring digital patient payments in their clinician offices. Providers can also consider adopting electronic bill pay to not only meet consumer needs but to also help eliminate the burden on staff and increase collections through consumer ease of use.
There are many lessons we have learned from the past year, many of which involve reimagining the future workplace for healthcare professionals. Organizations that use the patient experience to guide their operational changes will likely prove to be the most successful. As ASCs reflect on their pandemic experience, best practices emerge that focus on a flexible patient experience and include incorporating new technologies with the goal of ensuring your organization is compliant. It is now clear that prioritizing front-end operations to maximize revenue and improving the patient experience will help you be prepared for the inevitable patient-centered future of the health care industry.
This post was first published October 1, 2021 and was updated May 31, 2022.