With patients becoming consumers, healthcare providers are looking to transform their patient experience with patient access, which is considered the first and the most frequent contact point of patient-provider interaction. Patient access can often significantly influence a patient’s idea about the healthcare organization and their journey with that provider.
Patients today have high expectations from healthcare providers. In the healthcare industry, patients want convenience, access to information, and the impeccable customer service they receive from retail and other industries. To meet these needs, it has become imperative for healthcare providers to rethink patient access from patients’ points of view. They must focus on offering a personal, patient-driven experience across all interactions, including in-person communication, communication through patient access call centers, and much more. However, personalizing patient access for each patient is a mammoth task. That is why more healthcare organizations are outsourcing patient access services to their healthcare customer service outsourcing partners.
Here are a few things a healthcare organization can consider to improve their patient access by leveraging a patient access services call center, greatly impacting the overall patient experience.
Shift your focus from process-driven to patient-driven communication.
In most cases, patient access best practices are standardized processes to ensure safety and effectiveness, provide excellent customer service and meet financial performance goals. However, in the wake of changing patient expectations, healthcare providers must offer more personal experiences to increase patient satisfaction. That is why it is vital to design patient access processes around patients. With the help of a patient access services call
center, it is possible to offer a more personalized and patient-driven healthcare interaction that boosts the patient experience.
When rethinking processes from the patient perspective, healthcare providers should review each step to see whether it can be completed through self-service offerings like scheduling and check-in. Self-service options can create convenient patient experiences while freeing up patient access call center representatives to help patients who want a human intervention to resolve their queries.
Another area that the healthcare providers should consider is which steps (self-service and representative-facing) can be personalized and which steps need to be standardized owing to clinical, financial, or other requirements. When doing such an analysis, each step should be evaluated based on:
- Its current efficacy
- Available options to boost patient experience
- Whether it is possible to allow patients to do this step at their convenience or opt-out of it
For processes to be personalized, it is essential to do patient profiling, gather insights about their preferences, and use it to drive the workflow and enhance patient interactions proactively. In addition, healthcare organizations should build suitable quality checks into a patient journey to ensure an excellent patient experience at each touchpoint.
For example- if a patient who preregisters themselves using a mobile app and schedules appointments via phone forgets to finish the process, it can lead to longer wait time and increased expenditures, resulting in poor customer experience. To prevent that, there should be a process to inform patients and ask them to complete the steps via email or text. If they still do not complete the steps, then a patient access call center agent should follow up with them to explain why completing the steps are required. This way, patients will get a personalized experience that will improve their experience.
Leverage automation and financial clearance intelligence to enhance transparency and personalization.
Today many healthcare organizations follow financial clearance best practices to boost cash flow and decrease the cost of collection while ensuring positive patient experiences via greater transparency and personalized interactions. Most of these practices have stemmed from revenue cycle and medical billing practices.
Patients today want more transparency around their insurance coverage, expected out-of-pocket costs, and payment options at the time of scheduling. With access to state-of-the-art
patient information and financial clearance tools, schedulers working in patient access call center can provide such information upfront and set the right expectations. Patient Access agents can chalk out a personalized financial pathway for each patient in advance rather than causing the patient inconvenience by asking them for full payment. This approach makes the patient feel that the health system understands their issues and is eager to help them get the care they require. This approach can help patients pay at their convenience, minimizing the need for revenue recovery and collection calls in most cases.
Most healthcare organizations outsourcing patient access services to a patient access call center can leverage the call center’s latest financial clearance tools and automation to ensure transparency and personalization in patient experience. With this tool, you can easily provide your patients with estimated out-of-pocket costs, personalized payment options, and financial assistance options.
Continue to broaden Patient Access responsibilities and FCR
Patient access responsibilities are also changing with the focus on patient experience. Earlier, every patient access role had a specialized focus area. But nowadays, all the roles have become patient-centered customer service roles that focus on resolving all patient queries and issues in one call. However, in most cases, the scope of that one call becomes limited to a particular venue or department.
One-call or first-call resolution is the goal of Patient Access to enhance the health care patient experience and proactively meet financial clearance objectives. In a Patient Access call center, first call resolution or FCR has become the most critical patient experience metric.
Where patient access is handled in-house, the scheduling operation is organized and distributed among various departments where people specialize in particular service lines or care venues. For example – one person handles physician office visit scheduling while others handle diagnostic imaging, pharmacy, and prescription assistance.
By centralizing all these scheduling functions with a healthcare customer service outsourcing partner, it is possible to improve the chance of patient satisfaction and first-call resolution for patients who want to book multiple appointments and prefer to use voice channels to do so. In addition, by outsourcing patient access services to an experienced, HIPAA-compliant call center, it is possible to deliver more consistent patient experiences and reduce wait time. Besides scheduling, pharmacy and prescription assistance is another critical patient access area where a patient access call center gets a high-volume request. Patients call the scheduling service for refills for convenience. A patient access outsourcing partner has the training and tools to schedule the refill on behalf
of the patients and boost patient satisfaction through first call resolution without transferring the calls to a different department.
Patient access is also essential to support patient financial conversations. Patients may have many questions related to medical billing in a patient access call. These questions may include queries regarding their outstanding balance, recent billing amount, and much more. By providing your patient care call center with a complete insight into a patient’s financial transparency across the health system, you can prepare the agents to answer basic medical billing questions without transferring the calls.
To sum it all-
Patient experience is essential for the success of any healthcare organization, and Patient Access plays a crucial role in these outcomes. Healthcare organizations that go for outsourcing Patient Access services for a more convenient, personalized patient-driven experience are better positioned to meet the growing demands of today’s healthcare consumers, i.e., patients.