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Revenue Cycle Leader Insights Series: Perspectives from Patient Access Leaders

It’s no surprise revenue cycle leaders across the country have endured many challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to hear how industry leaders are addressing some of these issues, TransUnion Healthcare hosted its inaugural 2020 Virtual Health Finance Symposium. Our first session — Patient Access in a Pandemic — focused on patient access impacts, including shifting care settings, affordability drivers, enhanced collection and charity care practices, and persistent financial challenges affecting payment habits.

The panel discussion featured healthcare leaders:

  • Tonie Bayman, Director, System Patient Access and Training, Memorial Hermann Health System
  • Becky Peters, Executive Director of Patient Access Services, Banner Health
  • Jenny Valcarce, System Director, Patient Access, INTEGRIS Health

Highlighted below are the top 10 takeaways to consider as you continue to adapt to this new norm.

  1. Preparation is critical. In the face of a pandemic, proactive planning is critical. However, even if the circumstances have changed, the overall goal hasn’t: improving the patient financial experience. With a thoughtful plan in place, steps can be taken to make continual advancements — through technology, automation and patient engagement.
  2. Stay the course. Don’t let the pandemic completely disrupt your strategic plan. Make necessary adjustments without losing sight of your organization’s original goals.

  3. Be a change master. Look for opportunities to improve and ways the pandemic can be a catalyst for positive change.

  4. Do your part to prevent denials. Focus on denial prevention to avoid costs after the point of service. Some tactics to consider are to start with high dollar, high volume denials and identify trends that lead to denials.

  5. Offer transparent pricing and cost estimates. Organizations are implementing price transparency solutions to be compliant with the federal mandate, and provide patients accurate cost information before or at the point of service so they can make more informed care decisions.

  6. Provide flexible payment options. Organizations are implementing self-service payment solutions pre and post-service.

  7. Educate patients on care settings. Communicate with patients to help them feel safe when they need to pursue services. Lower emergency department utilization may indicate patients are choosing a more appropriate setting for care.

  8. Track performance metrics. Metrics continue to be critical to understanding performance. Look to make improvements based off intel gleaned from these efforts, including, but not limited to, registration accuracy, percentage of financially-cleared patients, productivity and call metrics, and unbilled accounts.

  9. Engage patients early. When it comes to their care, patients want a full understanding of their financial obligations.

  10. Be nimble. Flexibility and a willingness to step in where needed is critical to ensuring team engagement. Many organizations throughout this pandemic have had to pivot whether by shifting to remote work, reconfiguring work spaces to be socially-distanced work spaces and/or extending typical job responsibilities to help out the broader organization.

While strategic priorities may vary, having a plan is vital to ensure your organization puts its best foot forward — operationally and to improve the patient financial experience.

To listen to the full patient access discussion and much more, visit our Virtual Health Finance Symposium web page.


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