Archive for the ‘Customer Service’ Category

Infographic: A Healthcare Cultural Awareness Checklist

March 27th, 2019 by Melanie Matthews

Communication and ongoing education are essential to promoting cultural awareness and providing culturally sensitive healthcare, according to a new infographic by Quality Interactions.

The infographic provides a checklist for healthcare professionals to understand and negotiate any cultural differences that may directly impact care.

Although nearly three-fourths of health outcomes are determined by social determinants, few clinicians can ably identify those patients facing challenges related to social and environmental conditions or other experiences that directly impact health and health status.

Social Determinants and Population Health: Redesigning Care Management to Bridge Clinical and Non-Medical Services, care teams will learn that by asking patients the right questions and listening carefully to their responses, they can begin to identify and address social determinants, dramatically impacting patient outcomes as well as their own financial success under value-based care.

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Infographic: Electronic Health Records as a GPS for Healthcare

March 18th, 2019 by Melanie Matthews

As foundational platforms of healthcare information, electronic health records (EHRs) could improve individual experiences for all healthcare industry stakeholders, according to a new infographic by Publicis Health.

The infographic examines the evolution of EHRs and how they could provide step-by-step support for healthcare consumers, much like a GPS provides turn-by-turn instructions to drivers.

A New Vision for Remote Patient Monitoring: Creating Sustainable Financial, Operational and Clinical OutcomesAs healthcare moves out of the brick-and-mortar traditional setting into patients’ homes and their workplaces, and becomes much more proactive, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has been expanding its remote patient monitoring program. The remote patient monitoring program at UPMC has its roots in the heart failure program but has since expanded to additional disease states across the integrated delivery system’s continuum of care.

A New Vision for Remote Patient Monitoring: Creating Sustainable Financial, Operational and Clinical Outcomes delves into the evolution of UPMC’s remote patient monitoring program from its initial focus on heart failure to how the program was scaled vertically and horizontally. Click here for more information.

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Guest Post: Americans Say Healthcare Isn’t the Consumer Experience Leader It Needs to Be

March 14th, 2019 by Nate Brogan

Healthcare consumer experiences are falling short of patients’ expectations, according to a West survey. West surveyed 1,036 adults and 317 healthcare providers in the United States to learn how Americans feel their healthcare experiences stack up against other consumer experiences. The survey revealed that, although patients want healthcare experiences to outshine other consumer experiences, 72 percent of patients feel healthcare is falling behind other industries in terms of delivering exceptional experiences. The solution? Patients suggest better communication is needed for healthcare to live up to consumer experience expectations.

More than half (56 percent) of providers agree that healthcare may be trailing other industries when it comes to delivering meaningful consumer experiences, the West survey revealed. Also, around one in three Americans believe healthcare organizations are not as focused on customer experiences as grocery stores (30 percent), travel companies (30 percent) and financial services companies (29 percent).

Lagging Healthcare Experiences

Patients who feel healthcare organizations need to raise the bar when it comes to delivering customer experiences point to billing and wait times as two of the areas where improved communication could make healthcare experiences better. Around one in three patients say healthcare bills are more confusing than other bills (30 percent) and doctors run late for appointments more frequently than service providers from other industries (35 percent). Both of those, patients say, detract from the overall healthcare consumer experience.

Transforming healthcare experiences—at least in regard to billing and wait times—may be as easy as making some simple communication adjustments. It doesn’t take much in terms of time or resources to send patients a text or email that notifies them when a doctor is running behind schedule. Most healthcare organizations already use patient engagement technology that enables teams to send patients automated messages to remind them about upcoming appointments. That same technology can be used to send other types of messages to patients—like a message to clarify a bill, for example.

Here is a closer look at two communication upgrades healthcare teams can make to deliver better experiences for patients:

Actively and clearly communicate about financial responsibilities.

Most patients agree that interpreting and paying medical bills is confusing. The financial stress of having to pay medical bills can be heavy enough. But add to it the confusion of trying to determine what amount is actually owed, what is covered by insurance, what services are included in billed costs, and the process of paying medical bills can become overwhelming. A majority of healthcare providers (61 percent) admit that they believe healthcare bills are more confusing than other bills. Unfortunately, healthcare’s lack of cost transparency and complicated billing can cause patients to feel negatively about their healthcare experiences. But some of that frustration can easily be avoided.

Sending messages to communicate about costs and payments can eliminate stress caused by medical bills and improve overall healthcare experiences for patients. Healthcare teams that use patient engagement technology to send appointment reminders can adapt their messages and use their existing technology to communicate about a variety of financial topics. This might mean sending patients messages following appointments to let them know when to expect a bill, what services will be included on their bill and what payment options are available to them. It could also mean following up with a message after a bill has been sent, to explain and clarify what costs are covered by insurance. According to West’s survey findings, only 15 percent of providers routinely send these types of messages. Making this type of increased communication a standard part of the billing process allows patients to better budget for healthcare expenses, and it lessens confusion and frustration—in other words, a big patient experience improvement.

Notify patients when there are delays or changes to scheduled appointments.

Another time when patients want increased communication is when doctors are running late. More than eight in ten patients (83 percent) think healthcare organizations are more likely than other companies to run behind schedule or keep them waiting. Because patients typically don’t find out about delays until after they arrive for an appointment, this causes a lot of waiting. Many providers don’t recognize quite how much of a problem waiting is, or that delays are a major frustration for patients. Less than half of providers (42 percent) think healthcare professionals actually run late more frequently than service providers in other industries. This explains why less than half (49 percent) of healthcare providers say that their patients receive notifications (text messages, voice calls or emails) when there are delays that impact their healthcare appointments.

It is unlikely that delays could be completely eliminated or that providers could maintain an on-time schedule 100 percent of the time. However, healthcare teams can certainly reduce waiting by leveraging their appointment reminder technology to communicate with patients when there are delays. Other industries send similar messages to alert consumers of delays. For example, airlines send messages to notify fliers of delayed and cancelled flights. By doing this, it allows consumers to adjust their arrival time and it helps minimize frustration. When healthcare teams send these types of communications to patients, they can show patients their time is valued and help them feel better about their healthcare experiences.

Patients hold healthcare to high standards; they want healthcare experiences to outshine other consumer experiences. Taking advantage of opportunities to use technology-enabled communications to better communicate with patients is an effective way to deliver better patient experiences. And doing so can help healthcare become the consumer experience leader patients expect it to be.

Nate Brogan

Nate Brogan

About the Author: Nate Brogan is an advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting, promoting the idea that engaging with patients between healthcare appointments in meaningful ways will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans—and that activating these positive behaviors ultimately leads to better outcomes for both healthcare organizations and patients. Brogan currently serves as President of Notification Services at West (www.west.com), where the healthcare mission is to help organizations harness communications to expand the boundaries of where, when, and how healthcare is delivered.

Infographic: Consumer Expectations Define Today’s Patient Journey

January 16th, 2019 by Melanie Matthews

The modern patient’s healthcare journey is made up of seven distinct phases, according to a new infographic by Stericycle Communication Solutions.

The infographic dives into how to capitalize on opportunities to enhance engagement throughout each phase—and to avoid the very real risks that could damage the patient experience.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action PlanUnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs. Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS ® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

During Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan a 45-minute webinar, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

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Infographic: 6 Ways to Keep Patients Coming Back

September 17th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Normal attrition rates for physician practices range between 10 percent and 30 percent, according to a new infographic by Solutionreach, Inc.

The infographic looks at why patients leave practices and strategies to overcome patient attrition.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action PlanUnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs. Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS ® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

During Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan a 45-minute webinar, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

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Guest Post: Why Healthcare Marketers Should Care about the Patient Financial Experience

August 9th, 2018 by Will Reilly

In most cases, health system marketing is focused on dynamic content on healthcare organizations’ latest clinical advancements, philanthropic efforts, wellness management and relationship-building efforts within the communities they serve. It’s also understanding patients and their motivations, using consumer research and analysis, focus groups, surveys and other tools.

Healthcare marketing does not often include the healthcare billing experience, which is understandable. Frank discussions about finances remain a taboo in our society. The rising costs of healthcare—and the increasingly large percentage of that cost carried by the patient—makes this a delicate subject for even the most talented marketing team.

Yet, patient financing is a core pillar of a health system’s ability to deliver a positive experience to consumers and capture their loyalty.

According to HIMSS, “patient financial touch points…may exceed the number of clinical touch points,” yet its specific impact on the patient’s perception of the health system is rarely measured beyond common—and often incomplete—metrics like point-of-service collection rates, call abandonment rates and registration wait times.

Even HCAHPS, the national standardized survey that ties performance results to reimbursement, does not capture a patients’ financial experience, even though that experience can negatively impact a health system’s scores.

Healthcare’s Financial Quagmire

Imagine a state-of-the-art health system. The clinical care is second to none. The staff is highly professional and empathetic. The amenities and design details ensure a comfortable and reassuring stay.

Then the bills come. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Some come by e-mail, others by the post office. Some contradict each other, some are wholly unexpected and some are just plain wrong. According to a 2017 report from the Center of Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform, 70 percent of patients find their medical bills confusing.

Strong, trusted relationships between provider and consumer have been nurtured over generations, but they are being eroded one faceless statement at a time by what has become a significant “kitchen table” issue across almost all consumer demographic groups across the country: how to deal with the high costs and frustrating experience of healthcare billing today.

The patient financial experience is ripe for marketing innovation. The changing dynamics of U.S. healthcare has left the patient bearing more and more of the financial responsibility for their treatment. Every statement sent by the provider to a consumer is an opportunity for the provider brand to show up in a positive way: with clarity, transparency, flexibility and compassion. But too often each billing statement is a brand opportunity lost—a disappointing financial experience that follows a positive clinical experience.

The work to be done to address the high overall cost of healthcare in the United States doesn’t change the fact that extraordinary improvements can and should be made in patient satisfaction with the billing process right now.

So what should marketers do about it? Here are three starting points:

  1. Understand the Patient Financial Experience

    Spend time with your revenue cycle team to understand existing policies and approaches to working with consumer as payer. Revenue cycle teams are on the front line of the provider-consumer experience as never before. Beyond the financial consequences of every dollar left on the table by the health system are very personal, human stories.

    One of the hard realities is that provider billing is managed very differently than other financial obligations consumers face every day. It’s complicated and confusing, and the balances are often large and unexpected.

    What financing terms does your health system offer (beyond financial assistance)? What do your paper or digital statements look like, and how many are sent each week? What is the average post-insurance balance owed by patients and how has that changed over the last five years? How easy is it to pay a bill over time? How much of the total revenue of your health system is due from patients rather than commercial or government payers?

    Armed with this information, you’ll have a good understanding of the way your health system shows up to consumers today and what’s at stake. The most important thing to remember is that “one size fits all” actually fits no one.

  2. Measure the Experience

    We know that patients’ financial experience informs their overall impression of a healthcare provider, but how can that be measured?

    Use focus groups and online panel groups to talk to patients about the financial experience, and measure satisfaction with the current billing experience. A simple five box customer satisfaction survey will get the lay of the land. Or you could find out your financial experience NPS score.

    Once the program is in place, it’s important to use the right type of data and reporting to measure results. This platform should include a feedback loop that allows healthcare organizations to continually optimize and improve financial and satisfaction outcomes. Failure to include this element in the patient financial interaction platform will result in a sub-optimal experience for both patient and provider.

  3. Develop a Patient Financial Journey

    Think about the end-to-end patient financial experience. What determines how patients look at their financial interactions with your system? It could be balance due, demographics, clinical condition, or other things. Can you identify patient financial segments that share common characteristics for whom you can design a better experience?

    Understanding the financial side of your brand experience is an important building block in the overall effort to offer a positive consumer experience across the continuum of care.

About the Author:

Will Reilly

Will Reilly

Will Reilly is the Vice President of Consumer and Client Marketing at VisitPay. He has more than 15 years of marketing and branding experience at major corporations and startups in Europe and the United States, including IBM.

Guest Post: Increase HCAHPS Scores Through Healthcare Design

July 10th, 2018 by Rebecca Donner

Improving HCAHPS scores from an interior design perspective.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey was established as a way to measure patients’ perspectives on healthcare and make comparisons across hospitals based on the patient experience. Receiving a high score can boost hospitals’ Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement, while a low score can decrease funding by as much as 2 percent. Because HCAHPS scores can affect a hospital’s bottom line, it provides an incentive for them to place a greater focus on patient experience to receive a high score.

There a number of ways to increase a HCAHPS score, including patient communication and respect, speediness, cleanliness and even pain management procedures. But one way that may be overlooked is how to raise that score through interior design. There are a number of ways to approach HCAHPS scores from a design perspective.

Noise Reduction

With so much commotion in hospitals, it can be difficult for patients to rest, which is a key component to the healing process. Standard noise levels should be 35 dB(A) during the day and 30 d(B)A at night, but peak noise levels in hospitals often exceed 85 to 90 db(A), according to the Center for Health Design.

Aside from limiting overhead announcements and machine beeping, hospitals can reduce noise by focusing on the materials they use inside their facility. Carpet tiles or rubber flooring, as opposed to tile, can reduce the noise of foot traffic outside patient rooms. In addition, acoustic wall coverings and ceiling tiles act as giant sonic sponges, soaking up unwanted noise and echo. This can prevent any loud conversations or unwanted noises from traveling down hallways.

Privacy

Privacy and comfort rank high in ways to improve patient experience. According to the 2016 Hospital Construction Survey, many hospitals are now converting semi-private rooms into private rooms to increase patient privacy. After all, no one wants to share a room with a stranger during what can be one of the scariest times in someone’s life. Plus, two patients in a room can increase the chance of infection.

Many hospitals are also increasing the square footage of patient rooms. This way, even if two patients are sharing a room, they each have plenty of private space.

Personal Controls

To make the hospital feel like home as much as possible, many facilities are now offering patients greater control over the lighting, temperature and window shades in their rooms. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to how warm or cool, or how dark or bright, they want a room to be. Personal dimming controls allow patients to adjust the lighting depending on their activity, whether they are trying to sleep or need extra light for reading or examinations. Giving patients control over these variables can lead to higher patient satisfaction.

Mobility

Hospitals with high mobility and accessibility receive higher HCAHPS scores. Installing handrails makes it easier for patients to get to the bathroom, and wide bathrooms give patients the space they need when using the facilities.

About the Author:

Rebecca Donner

Rebecca Donner

Rebecca Donner is the owner and founder of Nashville-based healthcare interior design firm Inner Design Studio. For more information.

Infographic: Provider Appointment Wait Times

May 23rd, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

With an on-demand economy, patients value convenience in their healthcare experience, according to a new infographic by athenahealth, Inc.

The infographic examines patients’ perceptions and the impact of provider appointment wait times, along with ways to reduce these wait times.

UnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs.

Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan, a 45-minute webinar on July 27th, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

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Guest Post: How U.S. Healthcare Mega-Mergers Hurt Patients

March 14th, 2018 by Robert E. Grant, Founder/CEO, CONCIERGE KEY Health

From the National Economic Council to the healthcare public policy experts at Harvard University, leading medical advisors and economists alike continue to invoke the words of Adam Smith, the eighteenth century British political economist and author of The Wealth of Nations who stated some 300 years ago, “Seldom do businessmen (companies) of the same trade get together but that it results in some detriment to the general public.”

Take the colossal U.S. financial collapse in 2008, for example, which followed an all-time mergers-and-acquisitions (M&A) high of $4.3 trillion in deals. Not more than five years passed before companies were willing to hedge their bets again—especially in the healthcare sector—but with markedly higher stakes. The same year the Journal of the American Medical Association released a thoughtful examination of hospital consolidation, penned by leading medical authorities from the Harvard School of Public Health who opposed the notion of mega-mergers, Teva Pharmaceuticals announced its plan to acquire Allergan’s generics business, Actavis Generics, for $66 billion.

According to data from the financial information firm Dealogic, that was just the tip of the iceberg. The close of 2017 bore witness to the consolidation of private practices, private equity funds and pharmaceutical companies at the current and future expense of the American healthcare patient, who in turn, experiences fewer choices and a decreased quality of care—all for a higher price.

Healthcare’s Merger Epidemic

In 2015, global M&As skyrocketed and set new records by exceeding $5 trillion. It was no surprise that the healthcare sector emerged a frontrunner, leading the charge that year with a total of $723.7 billion in deals. Gaining even more momentum with Abbott Laboratories announcing its definitive agreement to acquire St. Jude Medical for $25 billion in 2016, and a 2017 announcement by CVS to acquire the health insurance giant, Aetna, for roughly $70 billion, the industry innocuously sent a clear message that there was no longer a sky—or an effective governing body—to set any limits.

As the world heads toward the fourth industrial revolution, where artificial intelligence and automation are taking organizations to new heights, health systems and hospitals are falling in line to compete and retain a market share. In 2017 alone, consulting firm Kaufman Hall and Associates reported 115 hospital and health system mergers, which represented a 13 percent increase from 2016. Many experts believe part of the consolidation epidemic stems from the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2010. Even Bob Kocher—the only medical doctor on the National Economic Council advising President Obama—recanted his support of consolidating hospitals, health systems and doctors into larger groups in an effort he believed could drastically improve the delivery of patient care. In 2016, he laid bare his soul in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled, How I Was Wrong About ObamaCare.

But it’s not just the architects of Obamacare that have failed to heed the words of economists who, like Adam Smith, understand how fewer market participants and less competition are very likely to result in higher prices for consumers, without an improvement in quality.

Not All Mergers are Alike

It is important to note that not all mergers are considered equal. Consolidation driven by organic and natural forces of the market can undoubtedly decrease costs for consumers while improving the quality of a product or service. But if escalating healthcare costs and insurance premiums—along with a flawed system where seeing a specialist requires a referral protocol that can delay a visit by weeks or months—are any indication of the manic consolidations taking place today, it should be proof enough that we are headed for a reckoning.

Demanding More for Less

Even in a growing on-demand, digital economy where consumers can influence the decisions of others through multiple channels and social media platforms, the patient experience has yet to be addressed. In addition to soaring healthcare insurance premiums, in just three years the average new patient doctor appointment wait times in the U.S. increased by 30 percent, according to a 2017 Merritt Hawkins survey. In large markets, the average wait time to see a doctor was 24.1 days (up 30 percent from 2014), with average wait times to see a family medicine doctor up 50 percent. That may not mean much to a healthy individual relocating and searching for a new doctor, but for someone facing a potentially life-threatening illness, it could become a matter of life and death. Furthermore, prior studies such as the 2004 analysis of the 1996 Aetna acquisition of U.S. Healthcare put forth by University of California, Berkeley health economist, James C. Robinson, offer solid evidence that hospital and insurance mergers, in particular, almost always lead to higher costs, less efficiency and less innovation. Why? Because, as Adam Smith warned, mergers reduce competition, which is the driving factor of a free market.

Perhaps the greatest irony in all of human healthcare is that organizations came into existence for the very purpose of helping people get and stay well, yet it seems the survival of the organization has taken priority over the patient and obscured who the consumer actually is. Never before have health consumers been asked to pay so much for so little. It’s time to allow the invisible hand of the U.S. economy to operate as intended. It’s time to look past the bottom line and look to new business models that put patients at the center of the healthcare experience.

Robert E. Grant, Founder/CEO of CONCIERGE KEY Health

About the Author: Robert E. Grant is founder and chief executive officer of CONCIERGE KEY Health, the world’s first mobile app for on-demand access to elite doctors, including specialists and care facilities. An entrepreneur, inventor and investor, he has played a pivotal role for more than 20 years in successful technology and business development in pharmaceutical, medical device and healthcare markets. In addition to founding CONCIERGE KEY, Grant is founder and vice chairman of ALPHAEON Corporation, as well as founder, chairman and managing partner of its parent company, Strathspey Crown Holdings, LLC.

Most recently, Grant was CEO and president of Bausch+Lomb Surgical, leading the significant growth of its product portfolio. From 2006 to 2010, he served as president of Allergan Medical; Grant also served as director, board chairman, CEO, president, COO and CFO of Biolase Technology from 2003 to 2006.

HIN Disclaimer: The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of the Healthcare Intelligence Network as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

Infographic: Assessing Patient Communication

January 19th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Healthcare providers can increase the chance of their words having their desired effect by assessing their communication skills in the moment, according to a new infographic by Health Communication Partners.

The infographic gives you five essential patient communication elements and five questions you can ask about your communication.

UnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs.

Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan, a 45-minute webinar on July 27th, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

Get the latest healthcare infographics delivered to your e-inbox with Eye on Infographics, a bi-weekly, e-newsletter digest of visual healthcare data. Click here to sign up today.

Have an infographic you’d like featured on our site? Click here for submission guidelines.