Like patient satisfaction, patient engagement is an effective way to encourage people to continue using a particular hospital facility or doctor’s office. People have choices for their medical care, and they want to work with healthcare organizations that put patient needs first.
This means hospitals have one more thing to focus on, though it doesn’t have to be exacerbating.
With all of the IRS requirements that hospitals have to follow, patient engagement can seem like a small detail in a sea of regulations. However, patient engagement can increase a hospital’s bottom line through effective hospital revenue cycle management.
What is Patient Engagement and is it Important for Hospitals?
Today, people have access to a wealth of medical information at the tip of their fingers. While this certainly has its risks, it is primarily beneficial for patients to take their health into their own hands. When people take control of their health, they are able to make better decisions about their medical care and their finances.
Patient engagement is the complex interaction between a person, their health, and their healthcare team. Small ways hospitals can encourage patient engagement include:
- Allowing patients to access their medical records online
- Giving patients the ability to schedule appointments online
- Offering patients a web-based financial assistance application
- Accepting payments online regardless of financial assistance eligibility
- Encouraging patients to monitor their nutritional intake and exercise habits
Part of patient engagement is giving patients more transparency. Medical records were (and in some cases, still are) extremely hard to obtain for most patients. Healthcare organizations can empower their patients by giving them full access to their medical records – this gives people the chance to ask questions that can lead to future appointments and medical services.
For hospitals, patients are customers. The success of the organizations depends on having patients that are satisfied with both their quality of care and the financial impacts of that care. If patients are satisfied with their care, they are also more likely to take care of unpaid medical bills.
How Patient Engagement Can Impact Hospital Revenue Cycle Management
Hospital revenue cycle management gives healthcare organizations the opportunity to control how patient engagement impacts revenue. It approaches the revenue cycle from a patient-to-patient perspective so hospitals can see where they make the most impact.
1. Patients Can More Easily Access Their Billing Statements
One aspect of patient engagement is giving patients access to their billing statements. This may include providing more comprehensive information about the items in the bill as well as a breakdown of how financial assistance is applied to any charges.
Hospitals that rely on the mail system to deliver billing statements are at a significant disadvantage. Mail gets lost regularly and it’s easy for people to avoid opening a non-descript envelope. Medical billing software that has email functionality can improve collection efforts for hospitals, which helps manage the revenue cycle more efficiently.
2. Patients Can Apply for Financial Assistance More Quickly
For a hospital to maintain its 501(c)(3) status – which it needs if it’s going to accept payments for Medicare and Medicaid patients – it must have a policy in place that outlines criteria for financial assistance eligibility. A web-based application can increase the number of people who apply for aid.
An online application for financial assistance typically takes less time to complete than an application by mail or over the phone, and medical billing software like Charity Care Management Software has integrated features like the ability to save and return later. This makes it more likely someone will apply for financial assistance, which helps streamline the hospital revenue cycle.
3. Patients Can More Readily Return to the Same Hospital
Some patients are going to need more medical care than others. Hospitals want to encourage those patients to return to their facility and patient engagement is one way to improve the chances that they will, which helps set a foundation for hospital revenue cycle management.
With online financial assistance applications, patients may be able to apply for help with more than one medical bill. Giving patients the ability to take care of several billing statements at once is an effective way to ensure they return to the same facility. Patient engagement ensures that hospitals see continued investment from their patients.
Tips for Increasing Patient Engagement and Satisfaction
Increasing patient engagement and satisfaction should be a significant focus of healthcare professionals. Not only does it help with hospital revenue cycle management, but it also increases the likelihood that patients will refer people to the same hospital. All of these are ways to increase a hospital’s bottom line.
Fortunately, there are ways to increase patient engagement and satisfaction with a little planning and investment:
- Encourage patient feedback: Whether in the form of anonymous surveys or public reviews of the facility, patients appreciate being able to leave actionable feedback for hospitals.
- Give patients a portal: Most people want to be able to access their health information online and a billing portal supports both their wants and the hospital’s needs.
- Offer patients the chance to participate: Many patients want to be able to participate in their healthcare, so provide an extra level of transparency to get conversations started.
Every hospital facility is different, but there are some common things hospitals can do to encourage patient engagement and, ultimately, hospital revenue cycle management.
How Medical Billing Software Can Improve Patient Engagement
Before people had choices in their medical care, hospitals didn’t focus as heavily on providing a platform for patient engagement. Patient satisfaction might have been a follow-up call from a rushed nurse. With advancements in technology, though, hospitals have a unique opportunity to enhance their services and improve their hospital revenue cycle management.
Medical billing software, like Charity Care Management Software, puts control of their healthcare in the patient’s hands. It enables them to apply for financial assistance from the comfort of their home, gives them access to their billing statements, and provides a convenient way to pay bills. All of these patient engagement techniques lead to a healthy hospital revenue cycle.