RevSpring’s Marty Callahan Discusses The Role of Data Analytics in Healthcare

By February 27, 2019 General, Healthcare

RevSpring’s Marty Callahan recently sat with Carol Flagg of HealthcareNOW Radio during HIMSS19 to talk about the patient experience, data analytics, and the importance of offering intelligent communications and payment options to empower patients. Listen to the podcast here:

 

 

(Interview Transcript below)

Carol Flagg:      

This is Carol Flagg of HealthcareNOW Radio, recording live from HIMSS19 in Orlando, Florida. And with me right now is  Marty Callahan, the President of RevSpring. Marty, how are you today?

Marty Callahan:  

I’m great, thanks for asking.

Carol Flagg:      

The booth looks busy. It looks great down here. So, tell our audience a little bit about RevSpring. What is it you do, and what brings you to HIMSS each year?

Marty Callahan:   

Well, thanks. A little bit about RevSpring, we’ve been a company since 2012, and it’s made up of about seven different organizations that have come together, primarily to create better communications for patients across their encounter with any hospital or provider. And, we do that in a number of ways. We do it through print. We do it through electronic communications like text and email and IVR. And then we facilitate payments, so we really try to make the experience for the patient unique and special to each one of those customers so that their engagement is satisfactory. And at the end, they feel like they’ve got more information than they’ve had before, and it’s consistent across every touch mark.

Carol Flagg: 

So patient experience, that has certainly been a main topic at HIMSS the last couple of years. Talk a little bit about analytics and big data. Sort of not the warm fuzziest topics, maybe, to think about, and where the role plays there with patient experience.

Marty Callahan:         

So you know, our team really has been looking at data and analytics since I started here in 2012. And, my background is in data and analytics with a large credit bureau for 23 years. So, what we try to do is think about how analytics drives a warm experience. It can be cold, kind of, data and analytics … When you look at it, it’s not a warm thing, but we create actionable experiences from data and analytics.

For instance, if a patient doesn’t have the ability to pay, then we’re going to give them talking points and communications that allow them to get to payment options that fit their needs. And so, every one of our communications is driven by some analytic or some data element that tries to tailor the experience and tailor the communication to that specific person.

Rather than when you think about an appointment reminder that goes out, and it may go out via telephone or it might go out via email or text. It might say things a certain way. But, we try to tailor it to that person. And so, if they’re more likely to respond via text, then we’re going send it via text. If they’re more likely to respond via telephone, we’ll send it via that media. We also try to make the message very specific to the patient, so we’re always trying to warm the patient to whatever their obligations are, whatever their requirements are, or whatever information that a health system may want to send.

When you think about analytics driving communications, you can think about Amazon or you can think about online retail. Anywhere a consumer meets a provider or some sort of service, we want to provide them unique and very specific communications that relate to them and not to the mass. So that’s how we think about analytics driving communications today.

Carol Flagg:

It’s such a big part of what they taught you in the consumers on healthcare, you know, that also, it feeds into the patient experience. And we’re so immersed as consumers to have that analytic experience, whether we think of it that way, that you know, when we use Amazon and search engines, and we use podcast platforms, we’re getting this information back to us that is uniquely tailored to us. Obviously, tied to data analytics; but as a consumer, we don’t think of it that way.

Marty Callahan:    

Yeah, most don’t. But, what they do relate to is how easy it is to interact with whomever it is, right? So whether it’s a healthcare provider … And in the retail environment, you have choice, right? You can choose to shop at Amazon, or you can choose to shop at any online retailer. And you can make those choices because of your experience, or it could be product.

In healthcare, we’re just starting to get into the consumerism. And, we talked about that probably 15 years ago.

Carol Flagg:  

Yeah.

Marty Callahan:         

And it’s just beginning to go that way, and because of the change in the responsibility financially for the patient, because there’s more choice, because there’s more specialty. There are more clinics, there are more options for patients today than there ever was. So capturing that patient’s loyalty is really important, and is becoming more important for providers day by day. And that’s what we try to do.

You think about a lifetime value of patient for a hospital, for example. You know, it’s a little over $120,000 or somewhere in that ballpark; and, a family is more like $400,000. The need for healthcare providers to not only define loyalty within that patient base and to get them satisfied with their experience outside of the clinical engagement is really important.

And you see that every day, even in the facilities, right, with coffee shops and things that are trying to be more patient friendly. We think of consumers in the patient world, and it’s not just friendly, it’s how will we make their lives easier. How we meet them where they want to be met financially. Those are the important kind of attributes that we think around consumers and for healthcare.

Carol Flagg:    

That’s such a great point too. In an age of high deductible health plans, where, as patients, we are spending more out of our personal pocket books for our healthcare. And especially in a time, in a hospital setting, and maybe it’s an ER setting or in a sense of urgency, I think that warmth, that patient communication, is even more important.

Marty Callahan:   

All the time. And you know, most Americans, I don’t know the exact percentage, but can’t write a check for $400 dollars for an emergency. So, we know the impact financially on most patients in America. It’s a more of a financial issue across the United States of not saving and higher spending limits and higher credit card rates than ever before. Understanding that is really important. And options are really important to make sure patients feel like they have more control. And capabilities, in terms of meeting their obligations, and at the same time, getting great care.

Carol Flagg:    

I understand that you’re also an author, that you published a book last year.

Marty Callahan:          

Yeah, I say we did, right? So our team did. I’m, I guess, the main author of that. But it’s called Reinventing the Revenue Cycle, and it’s really a consolidation of what we’ve learned over the course of the last seven years with clients. And understanding what drives better outcomes for patients and healthcare providers.

And the essence of this is really around data and analytics and providing our customers ways to look at the business differently. So many times in our healthcare environments, people act on gut. In hospitals, in particular, and providers they don’t have a background in financial services. They’ve never had tools. They don’t have the data. And they really don’t have a great deal of experience in managing AR the way that a bank or financial institution would. In reality, these are financial tools and products.

We took what we’ve known from the financial services world, from marketing and analytics, to try to give a road map of how hospitals and providers can take a different look. How they can think differently about interacting with patients and managing that financial obligation.

Carol Flagg:   

That’s really so interesting that we are in this place today. My husband manages a small orthopedic practice in Scottsdale, and they’re bankers. They’re credit card companies, in a sense, because they do have to think about this payment process at the fine end and/or at the end of the patient care, and how that is going to work from a collections’ standpoint. It’s just not as easy as it used to be.

Marty Callahan:               

No, it’s not. And there are more tools available today than ever. Thinking about whether it’s online payment portals, or whether it’s credit card terminals, or whether it’s e-checks, and then what offers should we make to the patient who can’t pay a full amount? And how do you finance that? How do you make it over payment plans? And how do you create the environment that that becomes automated? Because really, managing receivables is about as much automation and data as it is about making offers. And, you can’t do that unless you understand the underlying data about the consumer themselves.

I came from the financial services industry before I got into healthcare, and about 33 years ago, they introduced the credit bureaus and Fair Isaac introduced credit supply and decisioning tools. No one had ever thought about analytics and financial services. It was all very manual, score cards and people making manual decisions on who got a credit card and who got a home loan, and who got a car and could finance a car.

Over the next several years, that all became automated. You could get a credit card. Instead of three weeks, you could get it in seconds. You could drive off a car lot with a car and get approved for a loan within 30 minutes. Your mortgage used to take 60 days to get approved. Now, it can get approved in a day. And that’s what drove change and really, the financial change in this country, the banking business changed dramatically with that introduction of automation and analytics and work flow systems.

And so, for healthcare providers to try to understand that and duplicate it, and marry it with the marketing aspect. And, how do you make people feel better about their experience is really important. And it’s a hard job when the tools haven’t always been there to do that. We’re trying to provide tools and education and analytics, to help them drive decision making in a different manner.

Carol Flagg:     

And finally, I understand you just received two number one rankings from Black Book from your work in patient communications and revenue analytics. Congratulations and kudos. Share your insight as to getting those rankings and what separated you from the pack, I guess?

Marty Callahan:            

Thank you. And we’re really excited about the Black Book rankings. It’s a testament to our staff. Really, we’ve built an analytics staff that drives meaningful understanding of data and impacts into the business that we share with our customers, and that shows in the rankings. Not only are we driving better financial outcomes, but they understand their business better. And I’ll give you a great example. We’ll go into a customer, and we do a lot of statement processing. It’s part of our delivery. And we might ask a question of, “How many statements do you send? At what dunning levels are they as a percent?”

And, we can’t get an answer. They don’t know. They don’t know their own data. They don’t know how many credit card transactions they take or the dollar volume. And so, by combining the analytic piece of our business and dashboards, they’re able to understand at every touchpoint how many communications go out to consumers, if that touch point resulted in a payment, what kind of payment, what their cost of the payment was. So now, they have a whole new insight.

I think that’s a great example of how we’ve driven greater understanding in the business around analytics. And, I think, that went pretty far into the ranking itself. And then, from the patient payment standpoint, we try to create as many frictionless payment opportunities for our patients and for customer service reps through our platforms. And by that, we mean: if a patient wants to pay online, we have online tools and mobile tools. And, if they want to pay through the telephone, we make that available to them, and they can check their balances. And they’re always up to date because we have integrations with HIS systems that allow us to get real-time updates on balances and adjustments. And so, there’s never an out-of-sync balance for a patient.

We give them options to transfer in, to talk to CSRs – warm transfers in. We give them opportunities to contact in any medium of communication. So, I think  that philosophy of meeting the patient where they are and giving them a frictionless experience, payment options, as well as is customer service reps having those same tools, we really created the opportunity for us to get those rankings.

I think the second part is, we had a merger with Apex Revenue Technology. Really excited about that. In the patient payment rankings, they were number two. And so together, I don’t think there is a chance we won’t be number one. And it’s exciting to know we’ll be aligned with an organization, and now one organization that is focused on meeting the patient where they are and combining our analytic structures.

Carol Flagg:    

Marty, congratulations to you and your team.

Marty Callahan: 

Thank you so much.

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