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The Cost of Communication Inefficiencies in Healthcare

Posted by Mark Wechsler on Jun 13, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Healthcare mergers and acquisitions are forcing providers to develop cohesive approaches to managing the patient journey. Attention is increasingly being given to ways in which seamless access to information for both patients and providers can be accommodated for the purpose of streamlining patient access services and care delivery processes. As the consolidation trend continues (healthcare M&A was at a record level in 2017 and continued through 2018), the need to establish highly effective patient/provider communication services is increasingly important – especially when you consider the amount of money that is lost due to communication inefficiencies.

Leakage Consumes 15 Cents of Every Dollar

Fifteen cents of every US healthcare dollar are consumed by revenue cycle inefficiencies, and few areas are immune to leakage. Inefficiencies in no shows, poor referral management, payments, billing, write-offs, and claims processing are highly dependent on efficient communication channels. Incorporation of readily available technologies to simplify patient interaction and accelerate information access are often overlooked and could be an important component of the remedy for a variety of issues, including:

  • Patient confusion about complex medical bills and Explanations of Benefits (EOB). A 2017 survey of patients revealed 72% of consumers are confused by EOBs, while 70% of consumers are confused by their medical bills. The survey also revealed that 75% of uncollected debt is due to billing questions that go unanswered.
  • Confusion in authorization, registration, and pre-op instructions.
  • Payments uncollected when the patient leaves the provider’s setting are 20% less likely to be paid, plus additional costs are incurred in staff time related to issuing and re-sending statements.
  • Missed appointments due to the patient’s inability to reach the provider’s office to ask questions and for logistical assistance.
  • Lack of streamlining causing untimely reminder notices and re-bookings.
  • Lack of timely appointment and wellness patient reminders.

Tangible Improvements Are Within Reach

Affordable, pragmatic communication solutions are available to help healthcare enterprises address leakage head on and put them on the fast track to improving their business. Indeed, studies show that hospitals and providers who invest in technologies to improve efficiencies can increase collections by 3-6% net patient revenue. For a medical facility with annual billings of $50 million, that’s a significant savings of $1.5 to $3 million. Real-world successes include:

  • A clinical healthcare provider improved its patient call-in services using intelligent call routing, reducing resolution time for patient inquiries from up to 9 hours to less than 60 minutes and improving first call resolution by over 70%.
  • Nurses at an acute care hospital now record updates on patient conditions for secure retrieval by the patient’s family and friends, reducing calls by 50% and saving nurses an average of 20 minutes daily that were being spent returning calls.
  • A large physician group discovered they were paying more than $200,000 annually to an outside service bureau to issue appointment reminders. By implementing the capability in-house, they were able to quickly pay for the solution and expand its use for other purposes such as follow-ups and patient wellness reinforcement without incurring additional cost.

For a further look at the ways you can improve communication inefficiencies, download our complete healthcare white paper.


 
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Topics: Healthcare