Patient wait times are among the most significant obstacles to getting medical care. But most of the problems can be solved‒or at least minimized‒by improving the efficiency of patient access services.
Of course, this is easier said than done. In the face of the public medical emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare facilities face an overwhelming demand for care services.
But addressing the needs of patients for timely healthcare is an important concern. Like nursing home insurance, it is essential for delivering the quality of service that keeps facilities in business.
Central to these goals is the improvement of revenue cycles to shorten wait times, streamline collections, and add more value to the customer experience.
Strategies for improving revenue cycles
There are many ways healthcare staff and administrators can improve their revenue cycles to provide better service to patients. Among the most effective strategies are:
- Restructuring revenue cycles to offer value-added financial services
- Utilizing technology to enhance efficiency and maximize patient wait times
- Equipping registration personnel with tools that simplify payment collection
- Reducing time spent in hospital waiting rooms
These strategies can be beneficial to patients and healthcare staff, and administrators. Providing registration staff with tools that simplify point-of-service collection shortens the process and frees employees for other equally important tasks. And since time spent in waiting rooms doesn’t benefit anyone, shortening these periods can only benefit patients and staff alike.
Going beyond “acceptable” revenue cycles
Inefficient and poorly-planned revenue cycles can put a damper on what would otherwise be a positive patient experience. But healthcare administrators and staff should go beyond making these encounters merely ‘acceptable’. Instead, they should strive to make the entire experience easier, more efficient, and more considerate to patients.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by improving patient access. Some facilities have centralized the process and made it quicker and easier for patients to get to their appointments. Digitizing the process has also cut down on wait times significantly.
Working toward more efficient revenue cycles
Streamlining revenue cycles isn’t something that can be done overnight. Some of the most successful firms have had to make small changes over a prolonged period, sometimes lasting several months. It could start by initially adding eligibility verification and payment estimation tools, followed by a payment processing system. Later additions could include mechanisms for tracking patient flow, sending appointment reminders, and online patient intake.
How improving revenue cycles benefits everyone
Improvements to the revenue cycle can enhance the patient’s overall healthcare experience. But they can also benefit caregivers and facility owners. Here’s how:
1. Greatly reduced wait times
Reducing patient wait times is one of the goals of revenue cycle enhancement. And the most effective ways to do this are by centralizing patient registration and streamlining financial clearance. Some facilities have begun utilizing digital technology to achieve these goals. By making it easier for patients to send documents and make appointments online, waiting times were reduced drastically.
2. Increases point-of-service collections
Nursing homes and healthcare facilities, in general, can expect to see a significant increase in revenue by streamlining their revenue cycles. One company registered a 45% increase from the previous year, even without major policy or procedural changes.
How did they do this? By incorporating a payment processing tool into the patient access system they’ve been using all along. This effectively eliminated the delays caused by using two different systems for processing payments: one to receive the payment and another for documentation.
3. Improves patient tracking
Finally, a streamlined revenue cycle makes it easier to keep track of patients. This can be especially helpful for patients that may otherwise miss their appointments.
With a patient tracking system in place, patients can cancel, confirm, or reschedule appointments more easily. The use of engagement tools and mechanisms also greatly improves patient-flow visibility.
Healthcare facilities that have already begun improving their revenue cycles find that it has a marked effect on their bottom line. Because equipment or rooms are better utilized, the company’s revenue-generating potential is maximized.
Remember that improving the patient experience benefits your clients as well. When patients are satisfied with the quality of care and service they receive, they are more likely to recommend the facility to their friends and family. By streamlining the revenue cycle and enhancing the patient experience, everyone ultimately benefits.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.