When you set out to improve your healthcare facility’s revenue cycle, patient satisfaction may not top your list of priorities, but from scheduling their first appointment to making their final payment, your patients’ experience can directly affect your reputation and your bottom line — for better or worse. Patients who have a favorable experience are much more likely to have good health outcomes, pay their bills on time, recommend your facility and its providers to others, and write positive reviews. All of which ultimately affects your revenue. What can providers and payers do to enhance the patient experience and ensure satisfaction?
Patient satisfaction and the bottom line
Your facility’s financial health depends on your reputation for providing an optimal patient experience. In today’s healthcare environment, patients are consumers, and like any consumer, they want the best experience and the highest return on their investment. Patient satisfaction affects your operations, and thus your bottom line, in several ways. Staying responsive to patient needs can lead to improvements in efficiency, staff morale, and patient retention. Satisfied patients are more likely to pay, pay faster, and give their providers more referrals — and fewer malpractice claims. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Services (HCAHPS) survey measures the satisfaction of recently discharged hospital patients. Insurers are beginning to use these survey results to implement pay-for-performance programs based on patient satisfaction scores when making financial arrangements and determining reimbursements. Yes, patient satisfaction does affect a provider’s bottom line.
Engagement affects patient satisfaction and retention
Several factors affect patient satisfaction, including the patient’s demographics (e.g., age, gender, and education), wait times, staff communication, and engagement efforts. Meeting patient demands and desires is vital for remaining competitive. A satisfied patient is more likely to remain a patient, and provider/patient engagement reinforces a positive patient experience.
Patient engagement tips for providers
Providers must first understand the importance of a personalized engagement strategy for each patient. Every patient is different, and each will be more satisfied, and experience better outcomes, when their individual needs are addressed. To determine an effective strategy, providers can begin by tailoring their approach using patient data. What communication mode does your patient prefer? Are they more comfortable with in-person or telehealth visits? Are they more likely to respond to an email or a text message? Do they prefer to be educated and involved with all health decisions, or would they rather simply follow provider recommendations? Providers should also put themselves through the patient experience. There’s nothing like firsthand experience for identifying areas in need of improvement.
Patient engagement tips for payers
Payer engagement strategies include encouraging patients to take a more active — and proactive — role in their health by offering incentives for weight loss, exercise, and preventive health measures, which reduce medical spending. Payers should also survey patients about their billing experiences and pay close attention to what they liked — and what they didn’t. With the increasing consumerization of healthcare, providers and payers must consider patient satisfaction as a significant factor in their revenue cycle management strategy. Understanding what patients want and need from their healthcare experience, and tracking their satisfaction levels, is crucial for their outcomes — and your bottom line. To learn more about improving the patient experience, contact the revenue cycle management experts at TruBridge.