As we enter into the third year of the global health emergency, the impact on healthcare continues to evolve. With the ever-changing landscape, comes an opportunity to reflect, learn, and adapt to the times. Throughout the pandemic, COVID-19’s impact on hospital entities has not been specific to clinical care – it has rippled through the institution to every level, including revenue cycle management (RCM).
While RCM and collections once had a negative connotation, the pandemic has presented a unique opportunity for these preconceived notions to change. Moving into 2022, healthcare collections have the opportunity to connect with patients on a human level – treating the patient with humanity and empathy as is done within the four walls of the exam room. This year, healthcare organizations must prioritize RCM partnerships and technologies, which emphasize empathy and put the patient first.
Empathy in transition – How will 2022 look different?
Over the last few years, revenue cycle management has started to change, reevaluating processes on how to make it easier for patients to pay, rather than continuing outdated processes that historically prioritized the easiest path for the collector. COVID-19 has been the catalyst, which is actively pushing progress over the finish line. As a society, the pandemic has shed light on everyday inequities and hardships – from COVID-19 health concerns to individuals losing their jobs to struggling to provide for one’s families. As such, we became more empathetic and supportive of others – and RCM was no exception. At the end of the day, the goal of healthcare is to provide every patient with the care they need. RCM quickly moved from a “pay now” mentality, to meeting patients where they are – ensuring care regardless of immediate ability to pay.
Empathy in practice – inside and outside of the healthcare facility
So, how can healthcare entities ensure their RCM is projecting empathy? Decision-makers and industry leaders can prioritize the following:
– Upfront connection: In the past, discussions around payment and collections have been siloed to after the point of service, trying – often without much success – to reach the patient after they leave the hospital. However, by shifting the mentality to connection at the point of service, administrators can effectively collect the patient’s information upfront, including discussing co-pays and amplifying transparency around upfront cost. Doing so also allows for the opportunity to qualify a patient for payment assistance they may not know they had access to. Being clear and transparent with patients sets the road map to effective communication and payment upfront and down the line.
– Convenience for the patient: Identifying with the patient the best mode of communication prior to service is key. Depending on generation, level of technical understanding, and additional factors, knowing if the patient prefers to text, email, or call can dramatically increase the chances of payment. Similarly, understanding what time of contact is best for the patient is key. Knowing when the patient works or is unavailable, will save time and resources for the facility trying to reach them and increase the likelihood of the patient responding.
– Finding the right partner: Finding an industry partner with scalable technology capabilities, as well as a mission in empathy and working alongside patients is key in finding success – both for supporting the bottom line and ensuring convenience in payment for the patient. Having a vendor who can perform all necessary operations within one RCM platform will streamline operations for the facility and patients alike.
A chance to reevaluate practices
As we settle into 2022, the Omicron variant once again had hospitals overrun and the surge has mass amounts of patients seeking necessary healthcare. While many are hopeful that an end to the pandemic in sight, we can expect to see the trend of empathy in RCM continue. Ensuring patients know they have access to healthcare while using technology and facilitating partnerships to ensure the most seamless process for administrators and patients alike, will be key. Now is the time to reevaluate processes, find those partners, ensure the bottom line is supported, and prioritize human interaction and empathy.
About Jada Lewis
Jada Lewis is Director of Healthcare Product Management at Finvi, a premier provider of enterprise technologies that streamline and accelerate revenue recovery for clients across healthcare, government, accounts receivable management, and financial institutions. Prior, she was a Group Product Manager at Cerner Corporation. She has a Bachelor of Science focused in Organizational Communication Studies from Kansas State University and has worked in the healthcare information technology sector for 12 years.