Patient Relationship Management as Seen Through the Revenue Cycle

Tony Berberabe, MPH @OncBiz_Wiz
Published: Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014

With the adoption of a patient engagement initiative, Gwinnett Medical Center in Atlanta was able to improve the billing experience for 86% of patients surveyed. The initiative focused on managing the relationships with patients and their families before, during, and after treatment.

This approach focused on using the revenue cycle staff to build loyalty and gain direct consumer feedback. These efforts are highlighted in “A New Imperative for Patient Relationship Management,” which was published in the January 2014 issue of Healthcare Financial Management.

More and more patients are holding some balance for their care after insurance claims have been adjudicated, resulting in larger patient account balances. It therefore becomes imperative that payment and patient engagement are embraced together and used to improve the patient-provider relationship. In the business model, this occurs in the revenue cycle.

The authors of the study suggest that the revenue cycle should not be thought of as a linear model, with scheduling and pre-registration on one end and coding, billing, and collections on the other. Rather, they suggest thinking of the revenue cycle as a closed loop process that more accurately reflects the revenue model of the future, where providers are accountable for the period between patient visits and where providers and patients have a shared objective of returning the patient to healthy living.

Traditionally, the staffers in billing and receiving spent their days working with uninsured patients or patients who needed financial assistance. What was overlooked was the opportunity for staff to build loyalty among insured patients and whose future needs required careful attention. By refocusing their efforts, and investing customer service resources towards the insured patients, it enhanced the experience of these valued patients.

The authors highlighted their critical findings with this change in focus:
  • Revenue cycle staff can be an agent for patient satisfaction
  • Investing in the majority of the customers (ie, the insured patients) is critical for future successes
  • By taking a “test-and-learn” approach to innovation, problems were encountered but were quickly resolved
  • Small steps can make big differences

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