Healthcare is becoming a bigger part of the monthly budget for many families across the United States. The move towards consumer-based healthcare means that practices must learn and apply some of the techniques successful consumer-brands have used to succeed. Patients today are acting more like consumers, shopping around before choosing a practice, and practices have to start focusing more on providing the best possible patient experience if they have a competitive edge.
The Changing Healthcare Payer Environment
The healthcare payer environment has changed so much that you don’t just have to worry about health insurance companies paying your claims – now patients have essentially become payers, too. A recent survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that while premium costs for patients are growing slowly, that’s because the average deductible for workers has increased a whopping 49% since 2011, putting more of the financial responsibility on the patient’s plate. Americans are being forced to dig deeper into their wallets than ever before to pay for healthcare, and practices must take note of this change in the healthcare payer environment.
Along with this cost shifting, patients are changing the way they choose providers. They take time to research options online, shopping around to find the best practice for their situation and their budget. If your practice is going to stay competitive in the shifting healthcare landscape, it’s important for your practice to embrace price transparency and improve the patient experience.
Best Ways to Provide a World-Class Patient Experience
Every practice is unique, but practices that offer a world-class patient experience have several things in common: They’re patient-focused, efficient, equitable, timely, and effective. This includes providers with a great bedside manner, no poor customer service, and no last-minute changes and cancellations. If you want to gain a competitive edge, focusing on a customer-first approach that improves the patient experience is essential. Here’s a closer look at some of the best ways to offer your patients a world-class experience when they visit your practice.
Make Registration Easy
Your patients don’t want to sit in your office filling out 20 pages of registration documents before they can be seen. Focus on making the registration process easy and painless for your patients. You can accomplish this in several ways. One option is to make paperwork available on your website so patients can fill it out at home and bring it in with them. Even better – offer the ability to fill out registration via a tablet-based registration system. Patients are accustomed to doing everything on smartphones and tablets today. With a tablet-based registration system, you’ll not only improve patient satisfaction by reducing wait times, you’ll reduce keystroke errors, offering a win-win situation for your practice and for your patients.
Improve Your Patient Flow
Improving your patient flow involves taking a look at the entire patient experience. The patient flow includes:
- Scheduling the appointment
- Arrival at your practice
- Checking in
- Waiting in the waiting area
- Wait time in the exam room
- Physician treatment
- Patient checkout and payment
- Leaving the practice
- Receiving the bill
If patients find themselves unhappy with any part of this process, it’s possible that they won’t return. It’s important to look at every step of the patient journey, working to improve the flow of patients through your practice. Take the time to do a patient flow assessment in your practice to find areas that you can improve to improve patient satisfaction.
Related Information: 6 Best Practices for Front Desk to Increase Practice Revenue
Learn from Your Patients
To make sure you’re providing a world-class patient experience, you have to take time to learn from your patients. Learning what patients like and dislike about your practice can help you make changes that improve their experience and help you retain patients. The simple way to learn from patients is to ask them. Patient satisfaction surveys can give you great insights into your practice’s customer service while offering you other helpful insights, such as referral networks your patients are using to find your practice. When you take the time to learn from patients and listen to what they have to say, it increases patient satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and even increases practice revenue.
Provide Patient Education on Financial Responsibility
When working to improve the patient experience, many practices overlook the patient billing experience. It’s essential to let patients know what their responsibility will be early in the process so they are prepared to handle their responsibilities. If you’re going to educate patients on their financial responsibilities, it’s important to start by training your practice’s staff on financial counseling so they can help patients learn what’s covered by their insurance plans, the amount they’ll have to pay, and other potential financing options available to them. Offering a well-trained customer service team that can also explain billing and statements to patients will make it easier for patients to interact with your practice as well. When you offer a positive billing experience, it not only improves patient satisfaction and retention, it can lower costs and optimize practice revenue, too.
Use Billing and Coding Services (fewer denials, fewer financial surprises for patients, etc)
When you’re working to improve the patient billing experience, outsourcing your billing and coding may prove helpful. When you outsource these services, you’ll be able to improve insurance reimbursements by reducing denials that can be so costly to your practice. Professional billing and coding services not only reduce the rate of errors in the first place, they have the experts on hand to follow up on claims to ensure that denials are dealt with as quickly as possible to keep your revenue cycle moving. Having a good billing service in place can also result in fewer financial surprises for patients, which improves patient satisfaction.
As the healthcare marketplace becomes more consumer-driven, it’s important to make changes to keep your practice competitive. Improving the patient experiences is one of the best things you can do to retain patients and increase practice revenue. To learn more about how M-Scribe can partner with you to offer billing and coding services that improve revenue and patient satisfaction, contact us today for more information.