Modernizing Your Practice Starts at the Point of Service

Transforming your physician practice into a modern care facility should push your practice toward increased efficiency, improved patient satisfaction, and higher quality of care. But physician practices often struggle to make the changes patients want most, holding them back from true practice transformation.

One approach to modernizing your practice: Start with changes that elevate the patient experience—including the patient financial experience—on the front end. These changes can make patients feel more at ease about the logistical and business aspects of their care from the very start of the patient encounter, supporting more effective and efficient patient-provider relationship.

Here are three approaches to consider.

Rethink patient check-in.

How long are your practice wait times? One study shows wait times at specialty practices average 18 minutes across geographical areas, with some notable variation: Patients who live in Milwaukee experience 13-minute wait times, while wait times in El Paso, Texas, can total 27 minutes or more. When patients are dissatisfied with physician office wait times, one in five will switch providers, the study found.

One way to reduce patient wait times is to transform the patient experience. Consider technologies that enable patients to check in remotely, such as from their mobile phone. This option enables physician practices to capture vital patient demographic and insurance coverage information prior to the visit, eliminating manual inputting of patient data while providing time to verify coverage prior to the visit. When practices invest in solutions that automatically verify demographic data and benefits coverage, this alerts staff to corrections that may need to be made prior to the point of service. The result: reduced frustration and improved clean claim rates.

Share out-of-pocket costs prior to the date of service.

A recent TransUnion survey shows patients’ out-of-pocket expenses increased 14 percent between 2017 and 2018. It’s no surprise, then, that patients most want help addressing cost-related concerns. Make sure your patient portal offers the capability to calculate patients’ out-of-pocket costs prior to service, taking into account the patient’s insurance coverage and the amount of the patient’s deductible met to date. Then, begin discussions around payment before the visit takes place. Such discussions can be initiated electronically, such as by prompting patients for their copayment via the patient portal or mobile app, or at the point of scheduling.

Offer increased options for payment.

In an era of high deductibles and increasing out-of-pocket costs for care—with 59 percent of consumers facing out-of-pocket costs of $501 to $1,000 for a single healthcare encounter—providing flexible options for patient payment is critical. One study found 68 percent of patients want to discuss payment options with their provider, but just one in five providers do so. Given that 54 percent of patients say they would use a no-interest or low-interest payment option for balances of $1,000 or less, investigating opportunities to provide payment plans makes financial sense. Practices also may wish to offer discounts for payments in full, which change the psychology of patient payment.

Developing a Consumer-Centric Approach

Providing a modern patient experience is critical in an era of consumer convenience. But if new innovations are not implemented properly, they can set practices back, especially if the result is lengthened wait times, barriers to transparency, and a cumbersome patient financial experience. Take the time not just to design a more consumer-centric approach to the front-end experience, but also ensure that implementation is flawless.

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