April 11, 2019
“Advancing Humanism Healthcare” is an approach introduced by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation and was conceived in response to troubling trends in patient care observed by Dr. Arnold Gold. Dr. Gold feared that burgeoning scientific discoveries and advances in technology were shifting the focus of medicine from caring for the whole person to an over-reliance on technology.
The Foundation works with healthcare professionals to ensure that compassion, respect, and empathy are at the core of all healthcare interactions. The approach trains healthcare professionals on how to incorporate active listening, empathy, and professionalism in every medical encounter.
While this approach and similar philosophies are primarily used and positively embraced for those in the direct line of patient care, it can also serve as a meaningful framework for those working within the revenue cycle space. Research into how financial toxicity is impacting a patient’s well being is growing, especially among cancer patients who have the highest rates of financial duress caused by the demanding cost of care.
Compassion and empathy are critical components of providing good care. When healthcare professionals give humanistic care, patients are more likely to adhere to their medical plan. This leads to cost savings to the healthcare system since patients are taking part in preventive healthcare and healing more quickly. Your RCM team is a valuable component, providing the full circle of humanistic care – from the first interaction such as an appointment reminder to the last billing communication. Here are some steps to help bring a more patient-centric focus to your RCM strategy:
Train your staff with an understanding of how financial implications and the cost for care can affect your patients. According to a poll conducted by the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute, Americans fear large medical bills more than they do serious illness. The data showed 33% of those surveyed were “extremely afraid” or “very afraid” of getting seriously ill.
The basis of empathy is the ability to put oneself in another’s situation. Provide your staff with experiences and opportunities to understand the patient perspective and a chance to reflect on their role in the patient experience. Teach them how they can apply more empathy and compassion into each of their patient interactions.
By the time patients and their family are admitted to the hospital they are likely overwhelmed—dealing with their health situations and how they will pay for the cost for care. In some instances, when the situation is serious, how will they manage their personal life if they are unable to work? Show your patients that you care – use their first name, engage with them as a person, and infuse all touchpoints with kindness and compassion.
About 90% of hospitals cannot answer how much a procedure will cost if a patient asks. Cost estimations, even if they are not a 100% accurate, are a valuable and crucial asset in easing the financial stress caused by healthcare costs – it eases up the fear and confusion of not knowing how much their treatment will cost and will give them time to prepare and plan on how to cover these costs.
Once they have a cost estimate, help them navigate and choose a payment option that best accommodates their financial situation. The goal is to eliminate any unpleasant financial surprises and work with them, no matter the cost or the financial situation (and this is in line with most hospital values – that no patient should be denied care because of money).
Make sure they don’t forget their appointments and help them get back on track if they do. If they need any information related to lab results or have billing questions, your staff is right there with the information that they need – deliver this information in real time, using digital, multi-modal channels to get the information in their hands.
Your patients’ financial experience does not exist separately from their overall wellness program — it’s an integral element. By creating a personalized financial wellness program that puts the emphasis on both the care of a patient on the clinical side, and doing no harm on the financial side, the end result is a patient experience that shifts away from sickness and fear to one that empowers and heals.
Integrated payment communication is part of RevSpring’s DNA. We tailor the payment conversation to influence behavior and inspire action. Our segmentation rules and workflows help you become hyper-focused on the patient, understanding their ability to pay and mapping their financial obligations to repayment pathways.
If you’d like to learn more about our comprehensive patient engagement and billing solutions, we’d love to help you. Request a demo to see how we can help your organization meet its goals.