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Healthcare Revenue Cycle Trends to Watch in 2018

By December 21, 2017Healthcare

When planning your revenue cycle goals for 2018, there are multiple trends emerging that can help you set up your business for success.

Trend #1 – Patient Responsibility and User Experience

The patient responsibility for cost of care continues to increase. Black Book’s 2017 Revenue Cycle Management Survey found that “Since 2015, patients experienced a 29.4 percent increase in deductible and out-of-pocket maximum costs on average.”

A study in Becker’s also reported, “A majority of patients, 71 percent, said mobile pay and billing alerts improved their satisfaction with a provider.”

Because patients are paying more of their healthcare costs, an emphasis on facilitating a patient payment and experience is essential. If more financial responsibility is placed on your patient, then your ROI is much higher for making payment options easier for them.

Our focus at RevSpring is on the patient experience. Transitioning away from denial management into a patient-focused approach that enables them to pay. We recommend simple changes that can improve the patient experience. Here are a few tips to start with:

  • Use well-designed statements that are easy to read and give a clear call to action
  • Provide clear payment options, including clarification on what insurance will pay and what is owed by the patient
  • Understand that each patient desires a different user experience and provide options. Make sure your online bill-pay option supports responsive design for patients who prefer mobile access

Trend #2 – 360° Patient Communications

Creating a 360° patient communication strategy requires that you connect with your patients at all points during their healthcare cycle experience.

Effective communication starts before the first appointment or encounter. For example, you can provide a series of reminders of the upcoming appointment, including preparation instructions, a cost estimation of their visit, and an option to pre-pay.

Becker’s article noted,“Online patient payment estimations, plan administration and on-demand instructions were ranked among the top five improvements providers could make to increase satisfaction; all factors also improve price transparency for consumers.”

Your first statement or communication after the encounter sets the tone for the patient’s experience and perception of your organization. Make it clear, clean, and helpful.

Understand what your patient’s experience was like with a post-visit, follow-up survey and use that feedback to improve your practice.

Additionally, keep track of when a patient is due for another visit – help them schedule a follow-up visit or an annual exam with automated outreach reminders, tailored and specific to their needs. Delivering clear and helpful communications will not only create a relationship of trust and transparency but can improve a patient’s overall experience.

Trend #3 – Patients as Consumers

Because of the ACA and the individual insurance market, many patients are involved in their healthcare decisions like never before.

This doesn’t end when they pick their insurance plan. They are now price sensitive when vetting for primary and retail healthcare services. They rely on websites and online information to price shop and check costs, as well as examine quality, reputation, and accessibility to providers.

Being transparent with information and monitoring online reviews of your services can help patients choose you for their services.

Online monitoring is a large piece of patient satisfaction. Here are some important questions to consider:

  • Are you monitoring patient experience, performance and benchmarking?
  • What are your patient engagement and “stickiness” strategies?
  • Do you have a social media strategy? Is it reviewed and monitored frequently, making it an effective and up-to-date communication and brand tool? Are you on the same social media platforms that your patients are using?
  • Do patients find your system easy to navigate? Is your website clear? Are your hold times reasonable? Are instructions and policies easy to find and available online?

Remember that patients have options — make yours the best.

Trend #4 – Visibility

Turning to back office procedures, specific information about your patients’ habits and their payment history are not visible with standard reporting functions.

Here are some of the data tools that can increase your visibility of patient behavior and attributes:

  • A/B testing
  • Workflow automation
  • Business rules
  • Design analytics
  • Scoring and Segmentation

This information can help you segment and make better decisions on how to communicate with your patients. However, this information is only effective when you have access and can make sense of the data. Let your dashboard do the hard work and learn from your data to make the best decisions for your patients and organization.

Trend #5 – The Path to Success

We no longer live in a world where you can cost cut your way to success. For example, saving a few cents on black and white statements instead of color or eliminating information to fit on a one-page statement will cause your patient strategy to suffer. These strategies may have worked when insurance was paying 90% of the bill but that’s not the reality anymore.

Many hospitals are making big investments in HIS systems; however, such investments do not cover all areas of a patient experience. These massive HIS systems investments are like buying a cruise ship — you need them to get your patients where they need to go, but they do not have the pieces you need to accomplish an effective patient engagement strategy.

Like a cruise ship, you cannot disregard the logistics of how and when people are going to get on and off the cruise ship. Likewise, well-designed statements, effective appointment reminders, follow-up surveys, and responsive design, and bill-pay options are valuable components required to make your engagement strategy a success. Without these services, you’re likely to have an unhappy cruise ship passenger when they have to swim to land.

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