The True Cost of Patient Registration Errors

The true cost of patient registration is hard to analyze because most providers and hospitals have convinced themselves they need to handle patient registration, instead of the patient handling it themselves. Therefore, the cost for patient registration can’t be improved and constantly increases based on new industry standards, such as meaningful use questions and ever-increasing staff costs. The result of this attitude and approach is that patient registration often takes more time than necessary. If the patient is unable to control his or her data during the registration process, lengthy wait times and increased dissatisfaction occur—costing providers both time and money.

Patients, on average, spend about 20 minutes in waiting rooms of healthcare organizations. When these organizations don’t focus on streamlining the patient check-in process, patient throughput suffers. Staffing expenses increase because staff must take time to clarify patient data or fill in missing pieces at the point of service. In addition, the potential for denied claims is higher due to a lack of data verification, raising overall collection costs.Impatiently-Waiting

Today, just 5 to 10 percent of healthcare organizations offer self-service solutions for patient registration and check-in. This is a missed opportunity to improve patient satisfaction, reduce costs and increase revenue. There are three benefits of self-service check-in technologies healthcare leaders should consider.

Speed. At Montgomery Cancer Center in Montgomery, Alabama, an electronic patient check-in solution decreased patient check-in time to just 41 seconds. Putting the registration process in the hands of patients not only provides them with the ability to manage their experience, but also limits check-in time simply by eliminating a visit to the front desk. This increases patient throughput and ensures that the time staff does spend with patients is of higher value.

Consider the airport registration process. When passengers fly, the last place they want to go to is a desk staffed by an airline employee. Instead, the first stop is to a kiosk or a mobile application with built-in technology that recognizes individuals with the touch of a few buttons, thanks to information they have been able to input in advance.

The experience in most hospitals and physician practices is often the opposite. Patient check-in is heavily dependent on staff—and breakdowns in processes occur when staff call in sick. They also occur when staff follow the same steps for each patient rather than customizing the registration process to the patient’s situation and needs. This increases the potential for error, which can lead to lost revenue.

Some hospitals and physician practices have tried to automate the registration process with the use of tablets rather than self-service platforms that verify data in real-time. However, this approach has critical flaws. For example, to receive a tablet, patients must go to the front desk, just as with traditional, manual processes, and any front-desk encounter adds time to the visit and costs hospitals and physician practices money. Every patient visit to the front-desk is an incremental cost for the hospital or physician.

Patient experience. Why is it that patients spend more time in the front office than with their physician or a nurse? It’s because front-office processes are broken. When patients spend more time than necessary dealing with a provider’s front-office processes and staff, satisfaction plummets—and there is a cost to lost patient loyalty.

One of the biggest misconceptions in healthcare is that front-office staff in physician practices and hospitals provide a personal touch to the patient encounter. But think about what this encounter typically looks like: “We have a few questions we need you to answer. Here is your paperwork [or tablet]. Please return this with your insurance card and driver’s license …” Is this really the personal touch we’re seeking to provide in healthcare?

Meanwhile, patients complain about the amount of paperwork they must complete before being seen by a physician. The personal touch they want is time spent with their physician. Anything that impedes their ability to see their physician impacts their experience.

Ideally, patients should spend two minutes or less on registration activities when they arrive for their appointment. While the amount of time spent at check in will vary by specialty, look for a self-service check-in solution that can ensure a two-minutes-or-less process.

Improved communication. So often in healthcare, it appears no one has time to truly talk with patients. Front-desk staff don’t always have the experience or time to have a meaningful conversation with patients. Nurses and technicians are under too much pressure to move patients through processes quickly. When the patient does see a physician, the backlog of patients—stemming in part from inefficient check-in processes—limits time for a meaningful encounter beyond the reason for the visit at hand.

Yet studies consistently show that the quality of patient communication has a direct impact on patient satisfaction. Effective communication is critical to the patient experience, which is now measured and tied to value-based payments. It’s also vital to understanding the patient’s total health needs and managing the patient’s health beyond a single episode of care.

A self-service check-in process opens the door to more meaningful communication with patients not just by freeing up staff time, but also by improving throughput. For example, nurses and physicians are better able to share information about additional services the patient may wish to consider. Staff can then augment these conversations by providing patients with brochures that offer greater detail about these services. Staff time also can be spent on patient follow up, making sure discharge instructions are clear and future appointments are scheduled.

Additionally, a self-service check-in solution offers real-time authentication of data and the opportunity to survey patients. Communicating financial information to patients can’t be done through the current paper process; however, when a patient uses a digital check-in solution, their data can be immediately authenticated, which allows for immediate communication of copays and remaining deductibles. Patients can also relate their experience with a staff member or physician in a post-office visit survey to actively share their suggestions for practice improvement. Not only do patients feel listened to, but their suggestions also help providers increase satisfaction and value.

Reengineering the patient registration experience is critical to eliminating front-office errors and delays that cost healthcare organizations money. It’s also essential to creating a more positive experience for patients as well as staff—a key step toward improving value.

 

gerard-white-clearwaveSRS Health guest blogger: Gerard White, President & CEO of Clearwave

With 20 years of technology leadership experience, Mr. White is responsible for successfully implementing the Clearwave Corporation vision and strategy. Mr. White co-founded the company in 2004 to carry out a vision of technology that spans the healthcare continuum through the creation of a healthcare network and a single patient identifier that allows accurate patient data to be shared regardless of what provider a patient visits.

Mr. White has extensive experience working with some of the most respected companies in the world including EDS, Security Mutual, Saturn, Lennox Industries, Continental Airlines, GTE, Alltel, Hitachi, Grant Thornton and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Both his knowledge and leadership experience provide a solid groundwork for Clearwave Corporation’s active role in revolutionizing the healthcare industry.

Prior to joining Clearwave, Mr. White was the CEO of 1stOrder, focusing on IT consulting services and wireless application development. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Information Systems.

Mark Your 2017 Calendars!

To help you keep track of your year, we’ve created this 2017 quick reference calendar that you can refer to for conference dates and important holidays. Looking forward to another exciting year!

Be sure to check our website for upcoming industry hot topic SRS Webinars.

2017-calendar-infographic-FINAL-v2

Anticipating Clients’ Needs

Lester Parada

Lester Parada

Director of Professional Services at SRS Health
Lester Parada is the Director of Professional Services overseeing the Implementation, Training & Consulting and Forms teams. He has a background in business development, product management, project management and client relations. His passion lies in maximizing client value by optimizing workflows and technology.Lester is a certified PMP, SCM and CSPO and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.
Lester Parada

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client-needs-blogI was recently fortunate enough to visit two Ritz-Carlton Hotels in the span of a few weeks followed by another premium hotel which I will refer to as Hotel B.  If you have ever stayed at a Ritz, the following will come as no surprise, but they seem to read your mind at times.  Sure, you are always greeted with a smile at any hotel and offered help with luggage or directions.  What I’m referring to is how they anticipate your needs either through past experience or more importantly through listening to what you are not saying.

As an example, while departing Hotel B, my car was brought up, bags were put into the car and I was on my merry way.  Whereas  when leaving the Ritz, my car was brought up, bags were put into the car, but I was then asked where I was headed.  I explained I was headed to San Diego while absently loading an address in my cell phone’s GPS app.  Before I looked up, the valet had returned with water bottles stating that traffic could be rough this time of day and I might need them.  Additionally he saw the route in my GPS, along with my vacation appropriate attire, and made a recommendation for an alternate route if I didn’t mind a more scenic drive with less traffic.  It was this anticipation of needs that inspires guest loyalty, and commands a premium.

As I look around in the healthcare technology space, we must do a better job of anticipating our clients’ needs, rather than just reacting to what they are saying to us.  The industry is suffering from a lack of satisfaction and companies are having a hard time standing out from the herd.  Most are banking on their next big feature to be a differentiator that certainly has a powerful impact if it solves a particular problem. But without a firm understanding of their needs, it’s not going to resonate. Features will also come and go, requirements will morph, and regulations will change— and that’s due to the very nature of software and healthcare as a whole.  I would argue, let’s make service the one thing clients can’t live without.  Let’s stop simply listening to clients, and instead try to anticipate their needs and offer them solutions to problems they may not have verbalized yet.

After all, the features we offer are only as good as our fundamental understanding of their needs, spoken AND unspoken.

New World, New Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Lester Parada

Lester Parada

Director of Professional Services at SRS Health
Lester Parada is the Director of Professional Services overseeing the Implementation, Training & Consulting and Forms teams. He has a background in business development, product management, project management and client relations. His passion lies in maximizing client value by optimizing workflows and technology.Lester is a certified PMP, SCM and CSPO and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.
Lester Parada

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new-world-blogI am not the first and will most certainly not be the last to discuss the shift from the fee-for-service model to the value-based model. Additionally, I do not claim to have any answers on where we will end up on the continuum between the two. What is obvious, however, is the fact that we need to begin looking at how we measure success today and how it will be measured tomorrow.

Most articles and studies today focus on large, complex health systems because they are at the forefront of the changes. Given the rocky start to programs like the 2-year-old CMS Pioneer ACO program—where 75% of participants failed to earn bonuses—the buzz on the shift to value is less than positive. So the question remains, how do we get ready for the shift and avoid the pitfalls seen by the health systems?

Change your KPI (Key Performance Indicator) perspective!

Practices today are very focused on cost reduction. As with any business, if you reduce unneeded costs, and maintain revenue, you increase profitability. Well, what if we translated that in the value-based world to Cost of Care? Imagine that you start this now and can soon prove that by reducing unneeded tests, prescribing generic drugs, and adding a rigorous pre- and post-surgery education program, your total Cost of Care is lower. This information could be used to gain bundled payment bonuses, not to mention the added benefits of cost reduction itself.

Other KPIs that should change are around patient access and engagement. Most practices have adopted the meaningful use benchmarks as their high-water mark for portal usage. However, we should change the conversation to true Patient Engagement. Rather than X% of providers sending a message to a patient or completing a VDT task (patients viewing, downloading or transmitting their clinical record), track the value added by your portal. Ask yourself if patients with a portal are more loyal? Do they add on more ancillary services that you provide? Do they refer more new patients to your practice? Do they have a better pre- and post-surgery experience? Aside from these more qualitative measure that can increase value, you can track cycle times for clinical and non-clinical processes, which directly impact costs to you in terms of staff time.

Last but not least is something that health systems already track but that can be adapted to the specialty ambulatory setting, Capture Rate. This is the portion of the patient’s total care that is captured by your practice. This means driving adoption of “other” services or simply grabbing market share. This KPI can be driven up by providing advanced access. This may mean having a percentage of the schedule open for on-demand access, or adding e-visits, or expanding hours. You can dovetail this with a portal to provide a more self-serve model. The concept here is that if you can provide more of the touch points in your practices, you can reduce costs along the continuum of care.

Experiment, Adjust, and Communicate.

Defining your KPIs is the first step towards creating a measurable improvement. While the ones above are some suggestions, your team may come up with more targeted KPIs based on your practice goals. A few quick tips as you go forward.

  1. Keep it simple – KPIs are not about data for the sake of data. Pick 1 or 2 and experiment.
  2. Be ready to pivot – We learn the most from mistakes and there is nothing wrong with changing course when you have more data.
  3. Consider both short- and long-term goals – Don’t try to jump to 100% value-based KPIs in 1 step.
  4. Communicate! – The biggest mistake you can make is not involving your entire organization. The full team must understand the end goal and then progress toward it. Nothing kills an initiative like the lack of a sense of ownership.

What are your teams doing to get ready for the shift to the value-based model? Do you have KPIs that you’d like to share?

What is all this talk about “The Cloud?”

Christopher Locke

Christopher Locke

Manager, Software Packaging and Releases, Software Development at SRS Health
Prior to joining SRS over 6 years ago, Chris was an installation technician for IBM providing hardware and software services. Over the past 20 years, Chris has used his automation expertise for software packaging and deployment, as well as software development process automation. He currently oversees all releases, cloud deployments, and installation packaging at SRS. In his free time, you will find Chris attempting some form of home remodeling in between his family's sports activities.
Christopher Locke

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cloud-gears-blogOver the past several years, you probably have heard people talking about “The Cloud.”  It sounds very exciting and mysterious! You may have thought:

What is The Cloud?
Am I in The Cloud?
How can I use this whole Cloud thingy?
I want to be in The Cloud!

Let’s see if we can ’demistify’ Cloud-computing and put your mind at ease. In its simplest form, Cloud computing is the centralized sharing of applications, services, data, and resources from a variety of computing devices. What that means is, anything you do on your device is stored somewhere other than in the device itself. Think of The Cloud as a central repository for e-mail, photos, videos, and other data that you can access using the Internet. A Cloud computing company is keeping your data safe and sound for you, so you don’t have to carry around bulky hardware or worry about setting up security solutions. The Cloud also allows you to share or collaborate.

Still confused?

What if I told you that you probably use The Cloud all day, every day? Some simple examples of Cloud- computing include applications like Facebook and LinkedIn, services like Gmail and Twitter, resources like Wikipedia or Google, and all kinds of data. For most of us, every time we snap a selfie, it is stored in The Cloud. All of these aspects of Cloud computing are available to us on almost all of our devices. We can share our personal pictures, videos, and e-mail on all of our laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even our watches!

So how does SRS use The Cloud?

You may be surprised at the answer. Every time you load your main dashboard, shared Cloud resources put together the screen to display your requested data. Every Rx transaction is routed through the SRS eRx Pipeline to be analyzed and submitted for the patient and communicated with the pharmacy. Every ICD-9, ICD-10, or HCPCS code is selected from a shared Cloud data resource. Patient data files are transferred through a routing system called CCX. The SRS Patient Portals are complex Cloud applications offering data to patients whenever and wherever they request it. The benefits of Cloud computing are endless.

So the next time someone mentions “The Cloud” you can confidently respond: “I am all about The Cloud!”

You Say You Want a Resolution…

Scott Ciccarelli

Scott Ciccarelli

CEO at SRS Health
Scott Ciccarelli, Chief Executive Officer at SRS, has more than 20 years of diverse management and operations experience garnered as a senior executive at GE, where he headed two of the company’s businesses—most recently, GE Healthcare’s Services, Ambulatory and Revenue Cycle Solutions. His areas of expertise include business strategy, leadership development, operational rigor (Lean Six Sigma), and the delivery of enhanced value for customers through quality improvement and innovation.
Scott Ciccarelli

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resolutions-blogOK, I’ve taken some liberties with one of John Lennon’s most famous lyrics, but it’s the first blog post of the year, so I thought I’d need a little extra attention-getting power to break through the post-holiday fog. Chances are, only a few days ago you were pondering how you would implement change in your life in 2015. You may even have proclaimed those resolutions loudly and proudly as the ball dropped in Times Square. Seven days in, how well are your new year’s resolutions doing at becoming reality? I’ve kept mine so far . . . 😉

All kidding aside, we’re doing more than just hoping that the changes we want to effect at SRS will happen this year—we know they will happen, because we have a system in place to ensure that we keep our promises to ourselves and to others. It’s not complicated, and it’s something anyone can use at home or at work to help ensure that their “Say/Do Ratio” remains high. Simply, there are four key elements: communication, transparency, collaboration, and accountability.

Lose weight. Work out more. Eat better. Since health is always one of the top New Year’s resolutions, let’s start with that example. Experts say it takes 21 days to turn something into a habit, but why do some resolutions become habits while others become failed attempts? Because commitment must be systematized for maximum success. So if my resolution was to get to the gym three times each week, the first thing I’d do is communicate that goal . . . to everyone, not just to whomever happened to be around on New Year’s Eve. It’s easy to tell yourself something and then forget about it. By telling my whole support network—my family, my friends, my team at the office—my motivation to do what I said I’d do is increased immeasurably. In terms of transparency, I’d start posting somewhere (perhaps on Facebook) each time I worked out as a proof point. I’d collaborate with others by starting or joining a workout group, maybe even implementing some sort of competition within the group. Finally, I’d enable true accountability, empowering my supporters to check in on my progress.

At SRS, healthcare is our core focus—and so our corporate fitness is critical to helping our clients strengthen their productivity while remaining focused on the wellbeing of their patients. At our User Summit in October, we discovered what was most important to our customers and then we created a system of actionable initiatives to ensure that our promises become the change we all want to see. And we are doing it by following this same four-step system.

No matter what your resolution is, big or small, by supporting it systematically with these four key elements, you’ll do more than wish for something to be different . . . you’ll turn a resolution into a revolution.