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What’s next in healthcare consumerism: Digital management solutions benefit patients and providers

Jun 27, 2022

Editor's Note: Modernizing the way your practice communicates with and handles payments from your clients plays a bigger role in healthcare provider choice than ever before. Having an easy-to-use and effective "digital front door" that manages intake registration, payments, symptom checking and more, provides patient convenience and minimizes effort on the part of your internal administrative personnel. SD-WAN solutions empower your practice by helping manage the traffic and routing of the systems on your network that’s processing these data sets, providing a cutting-edge user interface to all.

Upgrade your systems to offer your patients, team and practice a superior digital experience.

Healthcare consumerism is starting to look a lot like retail. Engagement with

a patient now starts even before their first appointment.

Consumers look to websites like Yelp or Tripadvisor to read reviews of a

restaurant before they go out to dinner, and patients are doing the same thing

as they choose their care. It’s no longer just about whether a provider is in

their insurance network and close to their home. According to a recent study

from Press Ganey, ratings and reviews are the top factors when patients

book an appointment.

 

We’re past the point of technology being a Band-Aid to get practices through

a pandemic. Modernizing healthcare is the way of the future. U.S.-based

digital health startups recorded $29.1 billion in funding in 2021, nearly

doubling the $14.9 billion from 2020. Investing in the right digital tools can

help practices attract new business, get them paid faster and provide better

patient care. Here's a deeper look at how that’s possible and the benefits

your practice could see from adopting such tools.

 

Front-end communication can ease back-end burden

The latest buzz is about the “digital front door.” This phrase may mean

something slightly different to each person you ask, but it encompasses the

use of technology to communicate with your patients at the very start of the

care journey.

 

Essentially, before a patient arrives at your practice’s physical front door,

they have already engaged digitally. Usually, the conversation about a digital

front door is centered around appointment booking or intake. It could even

extend to text message or email reminders asking the patient to confirm an

appointment. This means that administrative staff doesn’t have to make those

reminder phone calls or manage paperwork when a patient fills out

registration forms in the office. The patient also benefits from the streamlined

experience and doesn’t have to waste time in the waiting room.

In addition, a digital front door can save time at the end of an appointment.

Patients can make secure payments on their phone or computer as they’re

used to doing in retail. This kind of digital portal makes payment easy for

both the patient and the administrative staff, the latter of which may

otherwise have to send bills in the mail and wait for a written response, thus

delaying payment capture.

 

According to a recent study by U.S. Bank, 44% of surveyed patients report

paying medical bills faster when they receive digital or phone notifications

about billing, and 49% would pay by text if available.

 

A blueprint to get started

As you look to modernize your practice and create a more connected

experience for your patients, an online payment portal is the best place to

start. Many practices find the best return on investment from digital payment

capabilities because these tools get them paid faster and in a manner that

patients expect.

 

The next step in the adoption journey is digital communications. A text

message or email reminder to a patient to pay a bill can further improve your

cash flow and revenue cycle. Using these communication methods also

alleviates the burdens of following up, playing phone tag and managing

mailed payments that weigh down your administrative staff. The response

rate of text messages is 209% higher than a phone call.

 

Once you have a handle on digital payments and communications, it’s time to

tackle automating payments by using a card on file. Patients that keep a card

on file don’t have to worry about physically swiping each time they come into

the office to settle their copay. A secure, automated system for payment plans

also allows patients to get the care they need and pay over time. Plus, it saves

your administrative staff time over using a manual spreadsheet.

 

A patient is more willing to accept the care they need if a payment plan is

available to them. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “half of U.S.

adults say they put off or skipped some sort of health care or dental care in

the past year because of the cost.”

 

Implementation doesn’t have to be daunting

We’ve covered a lot, and it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect a practice to

adopt everything overnight, particularly if that practice hasn’t ventured too

far down the digital road yet. But implementing these digital tools typically

isn’t as difficult as a practice might think. Find the right partner that will

work with your administrators, who are most likely to set up and use these

tools on a daily basis.

 

According to a PYMNTS.com survey, 35% of bridge millennials and younger

patients are willing to switch healthcare providers for better digital

management tools. There is a strong business incentive to make these

investments, but the icing on the cake is that healthcare consumerism

benefits both parties. In addition to improving care for your patients that

want a more connected experience, digital tools can create operational

efficiencies for your practice and increase revenue.

 

This article was written by Alexa Skalandunas from MedCity News and was

legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct

all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.