Broken Patient Enrollment is Bad Business Health: Here’s How Providers Can Fix It
By David Abbou
Increasing competition and savvier healthcare consumers have made patient experience a competitive pre-requisite for healthcare providers, including systems, medicare providers, and dental service organizations (DSOs). This makes the enrollment process a moment of truth experience that can make or break a provider’s ability to acquire the patient consumer of today.
Until recently, healthcare providers viewed consumers using their services strictly as patients - the notion of a healthcare customer was a sore spot inside many health systems as medical staff found this degraded their skills and importance. But as value-based care has become more prominent, so is the need to grasp that high-quality patient care and great customer experience are very much inter-related: Your provider may deliver top-quality medical care, but if a prospective patient experience when trying to register with you is exhaustingly long and frustrating - they may never follow through to find out and instead take their business elsewhere.
This is why healthcare providers’ enrollment processes must close the gap with customer experience standards that have evolved in so many other consumer industries.
New patients need to fulfill several steps before they join a healthcare provider and visit a doctor, nurse or other healthcare practitioner.
But as healthcare providers know all-too-well, enrolling new patients is often a hugely data-intensive process for everyone involved - from the patient, their previous doctor or healthcare provider, payer or a third-party administrator (TPA), and their employer group.
To be registered as a patient, a customer is typically asked to complete a slew of forms, and provide multiple IDs, supporting documents and consents, including:
Completing a health risk assessment (HRA), intake form or other medical questionnaires
Provide their payer’s information such as their health insurer, TPA, or employer group
Verify ID - requiring their social security number (SSN) and driver’s license, and in some cases even a birth certificate or green card
Transfer their previous medical records from their most recent provider
Give legally binding consent to a Notice of Privacy Practices, which authorizes providers to use and share their protected health information (PHI) under the HIPAA privacy rule.
Provide additional supporting medical, financial, and legal documents, such as their current prescribed medications, and in some cases proof of income, or Power of Attorney (POA) rights.
Setting up secured and ACH electronic payments for out-of-pocket medical expenses
Customers Are Bounced Across Multiple Channels Just to Register as a Patient
Current patient onboarding processes to collect all of this data suffer from siloed digital systems and outdated manual processes that bounce patients between touchpoints such as face-to-face, sites or portals, the contact center, and email.
For example, a customer may first call the contact center to request to join a healthcare provider. But then they’re usually asked to check their email and download crowded PDF-based forms and questionnaires that are cumbersome to fill out digitally, especially on the device customers use most - their smartphone.
The Impact of Painful Patient Experiences
Many customers delay completing these processes digitally and end up printing off all the forms and documents they need to complete. Then, they’re forced to expend more time and energy scanning or faxing all documents back to the healthcare provider. This creates several critical problems:
Prolonged wait times result in slow turnaround time
Choppy and broken processes frustrate patients that need to print, scan or fax back paper documents. But that problem is heaped right back onto healthcare staff who must sift through multiple emails and paper documents, delaying enrollment turnaround times.
Administrative overhead and rework
Retrieving and storing a wide array of patient forms and documents adds a significant burden to staff who often obtain missing information from the patient and rekey it into multiple systems. This wastes an inordinate amount of time and resources on admin tasks and paperwork, draining productivity.
Not having a comprehensive digital enrollment process is especially problematic for Medicare providers, who only have a 3-month window to complete large volumes of sign-ups. Administrative burden and staffing resources are often exhausted, adding significant expenses needed to hire additional staff.
Flooded call centers
Confused and inconvenienced customers will dial the contact center repeatedly to clear up questions on forms and documents they can’t clearly understand on their own. This prolongs the onboarding process further and leads to greatly increased call volumes and burden on agents, who must field menial queries.
Inaccurate patient data due to manual errors
Time and resource-intensive manual processes lead to inevitable errors such as entering the wrong plan effective date or dependent name, which can cause significant friction with customers and lead to escalation and healthcare board complaints.
Data privacy and compliance risks
PII, PHI and medical data are extremely valuable commodities on the dark web and are leveraged by hackers for extortion and ransomware, with each stolen record selling for as much as $1,000. Emailing (or in many cases still today snail mailing) back forms and documents containing PII and PHI data opens patients and providers alike to these security risks. Providers suffering a breach may be found liable for violating HIPAA rules and be ordered to pay more than $1.7 million in penalties along with other corrective actions.
Streamlining Patient Enrollment with Digital Completion
In today’s digital and mobile-first world, successfully onboarding new patients today requires reimagining current patient interactions and eliminating the digital silos and outdated manual processes that prolong enrollment, frustrate customers, drown employees with paper and admin work, and risk errors on either side that jeopardize compliance.
To put an end to broken patient experiences, siloed digital systems and paperwork need to make way for one unified compliant platform that digitally completes all patient interactions from start to finish.
By leveraging Digital Completion technology, healthcare providers can capture all requirements they need from patients in one secure and compliant digital session optimized for mobile.
Instead of requiring customers to download multiple legacy PDF forms and bouncing them across online and offline channels, healthcare providers can simply send an SMS or email link that customers can open directly from their smartphone.
From there a mobile-optimized session guides the customer through every requirement needed to complete the enrollment process. They can easily and quickly swipe and squiggle with their finger to complete and digitally sign HRA forms or provide payer information, and instantly review and tap approve to consent to HIPAA authorization. Verifying ID is as simple as snapping a selfie with their smartphone camera and a picture of their social security number to add this directly to their enrollment application, and they can even set up secured ACH electronic payments for out-of-pocket medical expenses.
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To ensure enrollment processes are customized to the individualized needs of their diverse patient populations, providers can build intelligent and automated workflows based on conditional logic, that ensure patients only see and complete the actions needed - no more, no less. This enables employees to complete the process faster, with fewer errors, and greater clarity about any next steps.
That efficiency doesn’t just increase satisfaction from patients - employee satisfaction and productivity are immediately boosted by unifying all steps of enrollment in one digital platform, which frees employees from paper-heavy admin tasks and needless rework so they can focus on delivering the best care possible to patients.
Having one end-to-end secure digital audit trail minimizes confusion and errors on both sides, accelerating care processes and ensuring 100% compliance.
The Huge Opportunity of Completely Digital Patient Enrollment
Completing healthcare enrollments swiftly, digitally and compliantly allows healthcare providers to:
Enroll new patients quickly and efficiently directly from their smartphone, accelerating acquisition for healthcare systems, medicare providers, and DSOs.
Eliminate misunderstandings and errors from patients and staff by verifying ID and collecting all required signatures, documents, consents and payments securely and compliantly in one digital platform
Cut time and resources wasted on manual processes and paper-heavy admin work for both clinical and non-clinical staff
Reduce call center volume and alleviate workload burdens, reduce staffing overhead caused by inefficient time-consuming processes
Healthcare providers can seize the opportunities of digital innovation to accelerate patient enrollment, streamline operations, and strengthen compliance, speeding them towards enhanced patient outcomes and business results.
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