Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quality Onboarding = Quality Outcomes: 5 Tips to Build Strong Physician Retention

While most discussions today are around healthcare reform and value-based outcomes and reimbursements, what the industry is not really talking about is the shrinking physician population. There are approximately 2.5 physicians per 1000 people in the US. It is projected that there will be a physician shortage of 130,600 by the year 2025. With more physicians leaving private practice for hospital-based employment, how can a hospital continue to be competitive and retain its share of this shrinking physician population? With quality onboarding.

According to Cejka Search, 54% of physicians who leave a practice do so in the first five years, with many making the decision in the first three months. This emphasizes the crucial role of the physician onboarding process. Employers need to be sure that their physicians are happy with the hospital’s services and put the physician in the best position to be successful. Here are five tips for successful onboarding and building strong physician retention.

Tip 1: Create an Onboarding Committee

Forming an official onboarding committee is crucial piece of the puzzle. All players who fully or remotely touch activities related bringing the physician onboard should have a seat at the table. This includes, but is not limited to Hospital Leadership, HR, Credentialing, IT, clinical, marketing, scheduling services, finance among others. Every hospital is different in the number of tasks that a physician has to complete and the number of departments that are involved. The more collaboration and coordination there is, the more seamless and efficient the entire process can be. Read how Penn Medicine’s Office of Medical Affairs’ decision to create a multidisciplinary onboarding task force greatly improved efficiency and saved the health system hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tip 2: Facilitate Communication Anywhere, Anytime, and All in One Place

In today’s world it’s important to be able to have flexible mobile communication. Physicians want to be able to access their professional profile, credentialing information and other pertinent employee data easily and quickly, not to mention having to enter this data only once. Too many times onboarding processes are redundant requiring the physician to enter or submit his or her information more than once, which leads to frustration. Some processes are still paper-based. Even more frustrating!

Providing mobile responsive access where they can enter all their information at once from their initial application to periodically updating their professional profile, and being able to view any pending tasks (medical licenses renewal, CMEs, etc.) helps physicians manage their professional data in meaningful way so that they can concentrate on their real purpose – delivering quality patient care.

Tip 3: Centralize Enterprise Onboarding

As mentioned before, onboarding touches many departments throughout the hospital system. Having a centralized system in place where all dependent departments can view, be notified of tasks and take any actions required is key to shortening the onboarding time and getting the physician up and running faster so that he or she can start seeing patients.

Research from The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that hospitals typically lose $150,000 to $250, 000 per provider per year during the first three years of employing a physician. A significant portion of this revenue is lost in the onboarding process with lengthy delays in credentialing approvals, payer enrollment, EHR access initiation, photos, access badges, website directories and other activities that prevents hospitals from receiving revenue from actual patient appointments.

An online portal can be used throughout the enterprise to consolidate tasks and centralize communication for all onboarding activities. Connected departments can view workflows and quickly manage their required onboarding steps and provide supporting information such as task completed, due dates and other comments. This enterprise view of the onboarding process facilitates cross-departmental collaboration and accelerates a hospital’s the time to revenue.

Tip 4: Develop a Physician Liaison Program

The role of a Physician Liaison has emerged as a vital marketing position for many specialty practices. It is also a vital role for hospital organizations to have in order to drive referrals to their employed specialists. A physician liaison program is designed to increase patient referrals, strengthen relationships with providers and staff, and provide valuable customer service. In a recent Clinical Advisory Board Physician Survey, 66% of physicians said they were "very unlikely" to change their current referral pattern without a physician liaison actively communicating and building relationships with them. A strong liaison program builds a foundation of strong referring relationships driving revenue and market growth, and keeps your pool of physicians happy and engaged.

Make sure your hospital has a good physician liaison customer relationship management system (PL-CRM). Such a system should allow for quick access to physician profiles, be able to target specific physicians with membership tools, and easily track and document visits with potential referring physicians. Engage potential referrals with welcome letters and visit follow-up letters and generate reports for hospital leadership that track the success of your referral program, all automated with a PL-CRM.

Tip 5: Promote Physician Engagement

Finally, it is important to ask for and receive feedback from your physicians to keep them engaged in the process. Continuing to survey your staff regarding their onboarding experience, hospital services, clinical practices, and other touchpoints is vital to ensure your organization knows about potential issues to quickly address any problems. Physician retention, as well as employee retention in general, is directly connected to how well staff feels you listen to them and that their feedback is used to create a better working environment.

Setting your physician up for success means success and continued growth for your healthcare organization. This ultimately translates into better patient care and quality outcomes as physicians are in an environment where they can more readily focus on delivering patient care rather than taking care of administrative needs. It all starts with quality onboarding. Following these five tips will ensure your hospital continues to be competitive and can retain its share of quality physicians.

Want to learn more? Click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Top 3 Reasons for Hospitals to Include Online Patient Ratings in their Provider Directory

Most people go online to do research for just about every aspect of their lives, from finding a reputable contractor for home improvements, to which restaurants to eat at or which hotels to stay in while on vacation. We all use the Internet to see what others suggest. Think Yelp or TripAdvisor.

Why let other third party sites be your voice to the customer? Why not have your own voice?

Our research shows that 67% of adults wish they could find more comprehensive information about doctors online and 5 out of 9 patients consider an online review to be important when evaluating a new physician. As reimbursement models evolve patient experience metrics will continue to be an important performance indicator.

Why not take the lead in engaging with patients to make sure they feel confident about the healthcare choices they make? Listen to our webinar recording “Enhance Your Provider Directory with Online Patient Ratings” for a research-based summary of why online patient ratings are so important to make available to prospective patients.

Here are our top three reasons to include online patient ratings in your physician finder or Provider Directory.

#3 Improve Online Visibility of Services 

Search engine optimization (SEO) experts agree that user-generated content, such as reviews, is heavily weighted by search engines. This means reviews are often the first impression a patient will get of a medical provider or hospital when they search online.

Simply put - search engines love online reviews because their users do.

According to Google, they exist to serve up the most useful and relevant information. In a local search, health consumers are often seeking providers and services nearby and are ready to take action. An online search drives nearly 3x as many visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search visitors, and 44% of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device scheduled an appointment.

Naturally, then, search engines like Google reward websites that provide online reviews and other valuable information to empower those decisions. Make sure your hospital and your providers are found at the top of this list when patients are making important healthcare choices.

#2 Increase Referrals and Grow Practices

Hospitals are acquiring medical practices at an increasing rate and concurrently, about 60% of family doctors and pediatricians, 50% of surgeons, and 25% of surgical subspecialists—such as ophthalmologists and ENTs—are employed (Rosenthal, 2014). Increasingly, to assure the financial health of owned practices is to nurture the fiscal well-being of the entire healthcare enterprise.

In days past, the reputation of the doctor was assumed. No one questioned it. Doctors were esteemed members of our community, society, and local culture. If you had an issue, you went to the family doctor. It was an expectation, just like getting married in your mid- to late-20s and having 2.5 children.

One of the biggest changes in the healthcare business is the consumerization of healthcare. Before, healthcare practitioners did not have to think of how the public viewed them, other than internally in their practice or at the hospital with surveys sent out to patients about the care they received. The new reality is that people have more freedom to choose – their plans, doctors and how they spend allocated healthcare and wellness funds. So why not maximize your piece of this consumer healthcare pie?

More than a quarter of survey responders said they would be willing to go “out of network” for a physician based on favorable information from Internet websites and online referrals. Online resources are especially important for elective and specialized healthcare services.

A referral by a primary care physician is important, but consumers are increasingly interested in third-party recommendations available via the Internet. That’s why online patient ratings are so important to a hospital or doctor. Online patient ratings provide an independent “consumer” validation about a provider, services provided and overall experience.

#1 Delight Patients at the First Touchpoint 

Anyone can provide a generic transaction. It requires "intentionality" to deliver a transformative experience.

The number one reason hospitals should incorporate online patient ratings into their provider directories is to create a memorable patient experience. Delighting patients by allowing them to see the comments of other patients is key to them choosing a provider or which hospital to go to. Sometimes it’s the simple feedback like did the patient feel comfortable in the waiting area, did they feel welcomed and safe in the exam room and did the staff and provider show kindness and consideration during the appointment. Did the physician sit down with them and really connect? Did they feel heard and understood? 

Patient satisfaction is not about bending to every patient’s every desire. It is about making a sustained and genuine effort to provide skilled and compassionate care. Providing transformative experiences care is not all about one provider, but it is the sum of every interaction a patient has with the healthcare organization.

Allowing patients to see reviews about the provider and his or her facility is one important way to make a patient feel welcomed and that you sincerely care about their experiences and their opinions. Providing online reviews and the ability for patients to write a review is a way to engage the patient at the beginning of the continuum of care.

Now you know three very important reasons why you should include online patient ratings in your provider directories. By engaging your patients from that first touchpoint, you can strengthen your online visibility; deliver a stream of patients to your participating providers, who are increasingly employees; and deliver the first part of a transformative, memorable experience that will delight patients and strengthen preference for your organization. All the while, you are increasing patient satisfaction scores — a key performance indicator that impacts your organization’s compensation.

Want to learn more? Click here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

3 Ways to Reduce Avoidable Hospital Readmissions with a Patient Experience Contact Center

During 2015, one in five elderly patients was back in the hospital within 30 days.  Some 78% of acute care hospitals — 2,610 of them — were assessed a penalty for excessive avoidable readmissions. Those penalties totaled $428 million. (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2013)

Preventable readmissions represent a substantial portion of unnecessary medical spending. According to data from the Center for Healthcare Information and Analysis (CHIA), the estimated annual cost of this problem for Medicare is $26 billion — $17 billion of which is considered avoidable.

The Readmission Reduction Program, created under the Affordable Care Act in 2012, initially targeted readmissions for patients with acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia. In 2016, CMS expanded the target conditions to include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, total hip arthroplasty, total knee arthroplasty, coronary artery bypass graft and additional pneumonia diagnoses.

In addition to the readmission penalties, hospital reimbursements from CMS are determined by how well the hospital is meeting certain quality criteria including clinical care, safety and patient/caregiver experience. How a hospital handles a patient after discharge can have a dramatic effect on their overall reimbursement.

Enter the patient experience contact center. Yesterday’s call centers processed transactions. Today’s patient experience contact centers are the new communications nerve center. They deliver intentionally memorable experiences that mitigate risk, solidify loyalty and reduce unnecessary readmissions.

Download our case study on how St. John Providence Health System reduced preventable readmissions.  It summarizes how their contact center was central to their solution for reducing avoidable readmissions.

  • Readmission rate declined from 25% to 15%
  • $2.5 million fine from CMS was reduced by $1.9 million over two years
  • Their percentage of primary care physicians with patient follow-up appointments within 7 days of discharge climbed from 30% to 85%. 

The St. John Providence Health System case study includes 4 action steps, 6 success secrets, and 5 lessons learned. Here are three actions you can take now.

# 1 - Create a Centralized Communication Hub 

A key component of discharge care management is scheduling patients' follow-up appointments with primary care physicians within 24 hours of the time they leave the hospital. Hospitals shouldn’t leave that important follow-up visit to chance. Follow-up appointments occur within 7 days of discharge to catch any medical problems before they require acute-care services.

Hospitals should do everything they can to ensure discharged patients keep that first follow-up appointment, including reviewing patients' insurance benefits for appointments and arranging transportation to and from appointments.

It is no longer just about the phone. Call Centers have become Contact Centers, using multiple communication modalities including phone, email, Web-response, and text, to enable patients to ensure that they have engaged the patient in the next steps of care.

#2 - Engage the Caregiver in addition to the Patient

Discharge from hospital to home requires the successful transfer of information from clinicians to the patient and family to reduce adverse events and prevent readmissions. Engaging patients and families in the discharge planning process makes this transition in care safe and effective.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in their IDEAL Discharge Planning Guide lists five key areas of discussion with the patient and caregiver during discharge to prevent problems at home:

  • Describe what life at home will be like
  • Review medications
  • Highlight warning signs and problems
  • Explain test results
  • Make follow-up appointments

Before the patient is discharged, get the patient’s permission to also contact their caregivers. These are family members, loved ones, neighbors, friends or other trusted individuals whom the patient identifies as appropriate to help them confirm follow-up appointments and if necessary to transport them to medical appointments.

St. John Providence Health System implemented this approach. The result was an increase in their post-discharge kept appointment rate to an enviable 87%. 

#3 - Follow-up with the Patient’s Physician

Not only is it important to make and confirm a patient’s follow-up appointment, you should close the loop by contacting the physician’s office to make sure the patient kept their appointment. If the patient failed to make his or her follow-up appointment, then another round of communication with the patient and/or caregiver is necessary.

Perhaps they didn’t have transportation; perhaps they were confused about the date, or perhaps they simply forgot the appointment. The key is to try to eliminate these obstacles, so that the patient receives the care they need to prevent them from being readmitted to the hospital.

Now you have three initial steps you can take to begin to reduce avoidable readmissions with your patient experience contact center. By standardizing on best practices, you can significantly reduce or eliminate readmission penalties and can concurrently increase your quality scores to earn higher reimbursements. Want to learn more? Click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

3 Facts About Provider Enrollment That Can Affect Your Credentialing Process

Guest Post by Meg Terry, Senior Vice-President of Corporate Strategy; Echo, A HealthStream Company

Change is inevitable, progress is not.  Healthcare organizations are certainly not immune to change and doing business the “old” way makes it harder to progress. Traditionally, provider credentialing and provider enrollment have operated as separate functions within a hospital or health system. Organizations that are successful have integrated these two processes in order to more efficiently manage the organization’s revenue cycle for continued growth.

Listen to our webinar – Top 10 Provider Enrollment Survey Result Discoveries, and we’ll walk you through the facts about provider enrollment that can affect your credentialing process and why change is necessary.

Fact #1 – Provider Enrollment is a Critical Component of Provider Onboarding

A growing number of U.S. doctors are leaving private practice for hospital employment and only one-in-three will remain independent  by the end of 2016. This industry shift has placed a new burden on credentialing and enrollment professionals to integrate their activities and streamline the process. While the hospital may be paying a salary to a new physician beginning on Day One of employment, it cannot start billing and receiving reimbursements for services until the physician has been completely onboarded. This includes both finalizing his or her credentialing as well as enrolling the provider in commercial and government health plans.

Regardless of when a provider starts working at a hospital or medical group, until the health plan awards the provider an effective date of participation claims may be denied or held. Lost revenue can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of weeks.

To avoid payment interruptions, it’s important that you have a system in place that can initiate both the credentialing process and enrollment process at the same time so there is minimal time delay between approving a provider’s credentials and completing the enrollment process.

Fact # 2 – Efficient Revenue Cycle Management Depends on an Integrated Enrollment and Credentialing Process

Echo's latest research conducted in conjunction with Decision Health indicates that provider enrollment professionals are realizing the financial impacts and inefficiency of manual provider enrollment processes. One of the biggest challenges faced is collecting all the provider data necessary to submit payer applications. For example, manually submitting a Medicare application can take up to 90 days to process. Using an automated online process that integrates with your credentialing database can accelerate the enrollment application process saving you time and money.

On average, about 18 payer applications need to be processed for every provider. If your facility has 20 providers and you spend about one day each collecting data and processing their enrollment applications, you spend roughly 3000 hours a year just processing paperwork! Let’s say that a busy provider bills around $5000 a day. So for the 90 days that this provider is not fully enrolled, you are potentially losing $450,000 in billable revenue.

In contrast, working in tandem with your credentialing system, the pertinent provider data is already collected and the 90-day process can be cut to 10 days or less, reducing your lost billable revenue significantly and saving you time.

Fact # 3 – Happy Providers, Happy Life!

Seriously, physician retention is another important topic. Physician satisfaction equates to success and continued growth for your healthcare organization. This ultimately translates into better patient care and quality outcomes as physicians are in an environment where they can more readily focus on delivering patient care rather than taking care of administrative needs. What better way to promote strong physician retention that to make “standard” employee practices simple and easy?

With regards to enrollment and credentialing, providers need a streamlined, turn-key system where they are only asked for information one time. Collecting all data required once and entering it in one place makes the pre-employment process go smoothly; less time asking for and handling duplicate information and mitigating the chances of entering incorrect data with a second process. Having a centralized “portal” for providers gives them a set place to view all of their activities and see where they are in the credentialing and enrollment process.

Hopefully you can see from these 3 facts of just how interconnected provider enrollment and credentialing are. Progress can be made by integrating both functions into one automated system, so you can make your provider enrollment process less time consuming, maximize resources, and better control your revenue cycle. What to learn more? Click here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The PSI Profile - 3 Ways to Utilize Consumer Feedback From Social Media for Provider Assessment

How many of you know your credit score, or even check to see what it is?  Ever wonder what is a good credit score, and why this little three-digit number is so crucial to your financial well-being?

Having a less than stellar credit score can impact whether or not you qualify for a loan, get a lower interest rate or insurance premium, get that job offer you have been wanting, and even have an effect on whether or not you can get your utilities turned on.  Your credit score defines how trustworthy you are from a financial perspective, but also from a personal one too. The more responsible you are in paying your bills on time the higher your credit score. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you had a score by which you could judge the “responsibility-ness” of a Provider?

Consumers are increasingly voicing their patient-physician experience online – and they’re being heard by providers nationwide. Our partners at Binary Fountain have created the first-ever standardized, real-time physician social index (PSI) score based on attributes patients consider when choosing a physician. Binary Fountain collects data from over 100+ online sources, including social media, review sites, advocacy forums, blogs and other sources. PSI Scores like credit scores are scaled from 100 to 999. Scores are weighted against the author’s rating, volume of feedback, richness of source content, and the source’s influence on online audiences.

Listen to our Webinar EchoPSI Profiles: Monitoring Patient Feedback on Providers to discover how PSI shares the patient’s experience and adds their voice to support your organization’s provider analytics activities, and we will walk you through how best to utilize the data from your providers’ social indexes.

First and foremost, a PSI can be used as progressive benchmarking tool. You can employ the information to do comparative reporting between providers of similar specialties to identify best practices and thresholds. This data can be included in initial and re-credentialing activities, as well as Ongoing and Focused Professional Practice evaluations (OPPE and FPPE). Compare patient experience metrics across locations within your organization, and against local and national healthcare groups can help your organization gain a competitive advantage.

Second, data can be used in finding areas for improvement to take action on that can increase patient satisfaction. Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) surveys ask consumers and patients to report on and evaluate their experiences with health care. These surveys cover topics that are important to consumers and focus on aspects of quality that consumers are best qualified to assess, such as the communication skills of providers and ease of access to health care services. Results from the CAHPS surveys are used by Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in determining Diagnostic Related Group payment for each hospital.

Letter grades are assigned to key performance indicators such as amount of time spent with patient, clarity of instructions, thoroughness of examinations and more in the PSI profile based on online social feedback. Your hospital can utilize this information to identify trends, examine root causes and take action on those crucial items that can affect CAHPS scores and ultimately hospital reimbursements.

Finally, a provider’s social index can be used to promote positive feedback, and to turn satisfied patients into brand champions. What areas are your providers especially good at? Is it "a great bedside manner" or “takes time to explain things and puts patients at ease”? Then make sure their stories are told across the organization.

When Patients Use Online Reviews
Word-of-mouth marketing is still important to healthcare audiences. The informal conversations among family, friends and co-workers will continue to be an important driver of referrals. However online reviews of healthcare providers are even more important. In fact, the number of patients using online reviews jumped 68 percent from 2013 to 2014, one survey found. The reality is, however, online reviews are not only the accepted form of “informal referral” they actually are a driver of whether a patient will select your services.

Social media has a powerful presence.  Patients may not always tell you that they had a good or bad experience, but they will definitely tell their friends and family. Slow service and bad food reviews can definitely hurt a restaurant’s reputation online, so don’t get caught off guard with your hospital's reputation from your providers’ social index.

Now that you know what a PSI is and what you can do with it, why not take the necessary steps to ensure your providers’ “social credit” scores are a good as they can be. What to learn more? Click here.