In our on-demand world, patients across healthcare settings are expecting increased access to their medical information at all levels. As healthcare facilities incorporate the need to comply with electronic medical record mandates, it is evident that simply having the technology is not enough.
Instead, healthcare facilities need to look at the integration of customer service and support as well as the use of technology throughout the patient experience. This combined approach helps to reduce errors, speed up the authorization request process, boost approval rates, and ensure providers are paid faster. At the same time, this greater efficiency leads to better collection rates and a decrease in bad debts.
The Balance of Technology and Customer Support
While not used equally by all patients, many people look for medical providers that provide some level of self-service. This can include having the ability for patients to schedule an appointment online, check for insurance eligibility, or complete payments to the healthcare provider through a secure online portal.
In a recent survey, only forty percent of healthcare systems had online scheduling and payment portals for new or existing patients. At the same time, almost seventy percent of patients surveyed reported they would like to have the ability to perform these tasks online without the requirement to call in and speak to an in-office staff member for scheduling and payment.
In the group of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 34, the choice of a healthcare facility that offered online scheduling and payments was two times more than a healthcare facility that does not offer these services.
With the changes in healthcare services brought about by or inspired by the pandemic, patients of all ages are increasingly comfortable with remote access to health services online. These virtual doctor’s visits save patients time and money and add to the convenience of checking in a medical professional to provide an initial evaluation of the situation. Patients feel more in control and are more likely to virtually see a doctor for minor issues, which can help identify potentially significant health concerns at early stages.
How Technology and Customer Service Work Together
The use of technology for scheduling or rescheduling appointments for new and existing patients is an example of how customer service by skilled staff can be enhanced by self-serve options. The customer service staff can track appointments in real-time, following up when needed to address no-shows and cancellations. This frees up staff time to provide greater support to patients needing personalized support, while allowing patients comfortable with technology to use the self-serve option.
This is the same with prior authorization for treatment or procedures. This is a time-consuming process for many providers, creating a significant demand on clinical office staff. By utilizing technology and skilled, trained, and experienced nurses to implement the requirements for pre-authorization for the various programs, the process should be faster for providers, payers, and patients.
Choosing to use technology for eligibility verification for the various Medicare, Medicaid, and managed care plans is another solution. When the eligibility verification is performed through the self-service portal at the first step in the patient contact, approval or denial is completed before the patient appointment. If a denial occurs, follow-up by the customer service team can boost the patient experience and provide options to continue as a patient.
Call centers are another way to improve the patient experience by providing trained, experienced call center representatives to answer questions and provide end-to-end support for patients. This includes the representative understanding and being able to convey procedures and compliance requirements to assist patients in questions about billing and processing of claims.
Ideally, expert call center support improves the customer experience and assists in addressing the patient’s concerns about billing, eligibility, appointments, and other factors on the first call. This is a critical aspect in retraining patients and producing a high patient satisfaction result.
Finally, providing patients with the ability to pay through a secure portal helps to boost patient satisfaction and to decrease healthcare bad debt issues. These systems are available as turnkey solutions, which allows the provider to partner with a top technology service specializing in healthcare solutions to implement these technology and customer service solutions in their practice or facility.