Wednesday, March 1, 2017

29% Failure Rate in Patient Experiences



Guest Post by Rick Stier, Vice-President of Marketing; Echo, A HealthStream Company.


This post is an excerpt from an article that appeared in Connections Magazine.

Patient experience failure, the incentivized reduction of avoidable readmissions, increasing rates of physician burnout, and the escalating priority of revenue cycle management, have all combined to incubate an unexpected solution: Exit the call center.

Enter the era of thoughtfully deployed patient experiences, beginning with the first point of contact. In contrast to yesterday’s call centers, which processed physician referrals and class enrollments, today’s patient experience contact centers are a health network’s communications nerve center. They deliver intentionally memorable experiences that strengthen preferences, mitigate risk, reduce unnecessary readmissions, serve as physician practice extenders, and solidify patient loyalty.

Patient Experience Failure


Currently healthcare has a 29 percent patient experience failure rate, according to research by Hospital Compare. Only 71 percent of inpatient patients receiving care report that they received the “Best Possible Care.” That first touchpoint is critical. According to SHSMD (2012), the first three seconds of that initial interaction influences hospital selection and preference. Whether on the phone or online, healthcare contact centers can intentionally deliver a transformative first patient experience.

Incentivized Reduction of Avoidable Readmissions


One-half of all hospitals in the United States (2,597) will be penalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for unnecessary readmissions in FY 2017. Preventable readmissions represent a substantial portion of unnecessary medical spending. According to data from the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), the estimated annual cost of this problem for Medicare is $26 billion annually, $17 billion of which is considered avoidable (source: Provider Advisor 2016 Volume 2, Issue 2, p. 4).

Increasing Physician Burnout


Nine out of ten physicians discourage others from joining the profession. Currently about 300 physicians commit suicide every year (source: Daniela Drake, The Daily Beast, 2014). Physicians face increasing burdens, including the complexities of ICD-10 coding; new billing models; responding to new government regulations; dealing with a changing landscape of health plans; and here comes MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act). 
Beginning in 2019 physicians will be reimbursed on various performance metrics such as quality, advancing care quality, resource use, and clinical practice improvement. According to Deloitte, “Providers are in for a notable awakening when the law takes place in 2017.”

On top of this avalanche of stressors, physicians must keep up-to-date clinically, build practice volume, and improve their patients’ experiences. Are you exhausted yet?

Growing Focus on Revenue Cycle Management


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid expansion has created an influx of previously uninsured patients that has left healthcare organizations scrambling to accommodate increased demand while simultaneously experiencing lower margins. Because consumers are assuming greater financial responsibility for their own healthcare, healthcare delivery networks must shift from a wholesale to a retail environment where they interact directly with patients on issues such as pricing, billing, and payment. 

Concurrently, few healthcare organizations have taken the steps necessary to integrate the many information systems that support revenue cycle management. As the industry migrates toward value-based care, healthcare organizations are entering new collaborations, taking on risk contracts, exploring alternative sources of revenue, and being pressured to document outcomes.

Patient experience contact centers are a timely response to these industry pressures and many others. Redeploying a legacy transaction-focused call center as a patient experience contact center can strengthen preference for your organization, mitigate risk, reduce unnecessary readmissions, serve as a physician practice extender, and solidify patient loyalty.

For more information on patient experience contact centers, click here.



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