How integrating smart technology can improve patient & provider outcomes

Collecting patient liabilities is a challenge for most health systems. However, with the right tools catering to the needs of the patient, financial success is possible.

VisitPay is a patient financial engagement tool that integrates with health systems' existing revenue cycle management solutions to help patients easily pay their bills. Taking input from stakeholders, the platform starts with a model implementation but is then customizable to each health system based on the segments and subsegments of the populations they serve

In a Nov. 20 webinar sponsored by VisitPay and hosted by Becker's Hospital Review, Mickey Lemon, vice president of sales and business development at VisitPay, joined Jeff Howes, assistant vice president of revenue cycle at Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, and Michael Rawdan, senior director of financial services and patient experience at Boise, Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System, in explaining their organizations' success integrating VisitPay to enhance patient and provider outcomes.

Improving revenue cycle with VisitPay

A one-size payment solution doesn't fit all patients. Instead, health systems can improve self-pay collections by offering their patients options accounting for diverse financial situations and needs. What's more, patients often experience stress when it comes to paying unexpected medical bills, Mr. Lemon said. The inspiration behind VisitPay is to ease that stress and simplify the patient financial experience to drive better financial outcomes for both the patient and provider.

"If the bill [paying] experience is challenging, it is a dissatisfier for the consumer," Mr. Lemon said.

An electronic solution, like VisitPay's, addresses a number of common patient pain points, such as dread around healthcare billing surprises; paying bills over short time periods; inconvenient self-service tools; and irrelevant payment and financing offers.

Specifically, VisitPay's integratable solution notifies patients about their bills early-on and supports electronic payment plans customized to each patient, effectively addressing each bucket above.

"We owe it to our patients to be more flexible and meet them where they are," Mr. Rawdan said. "They are absolutely in the digital world. They absolutely need longer term than hospitals provide, and if you're not thinking about things a little bit differently than you have in the past, then you're going to run into some troubled waters."

Beyond improving patient financial engagement, VisitPay can help healthcare organizations predict risk in terms of patient bill repayment. VisitPay starts with a consumer segmentation and analytics approach that helps patients select a payment option that is ideal for them. This gives the consumer a solution that makes sense, so they will be more likely to pay, Mr. Lemon claimed.

Additionally, the platform is customizable to address unique problems facing each health system. For example, St. Luke's has used VisitPay with its Epic EHR since 2014. The system opted for VisitPay after noting a number of challenges with self-pay accounts and seeing increased consumer demand for digital payment options, Mr. Rawdan said.

After identifying its revenue cycle needs, St. Luke's had to decide whether to make or buy a solution, and Mr. Rawdan said St. Luke's didn't necessarily have the manpower to build a solution. When it integrated VisitPay's platform, it saw a 50 percent jump in patient satisfaction and a 20 percent yield increase in patient bill payments.

"To transition from having nothing to having a seamless product is certainly a huge jump for our organization," Mr. Rawdan said.

Marketing is key to a successful rollout

Intermountain integrated VisitPay with its Cerner EHR in March 2017. Mr. Howe stressed marketing efforts have been crucial to getting the bill payment service off the ground. By mailing out flyers and inserts, as well as updating phone messages and caregiver talking points, patients were made aware of the changes to the billing process. So far, Intermountain has effectively signed up nearly 3,500 new patients each month.  

"I would look at this very much as a success story," Mr. Howes said.

How is this achieved?

St. Luke's uses a multipronged approach to self-pay by giving patients a long-term pay plan option but charging a nominal interest rate. Since VisitPay is a single sign-on experience with Epic's MyChart workflow and it integrates with the billing system, patients are able to see all the information and actions they need to take to address their bills.

VisitPay also allows patients to receive notifications via email or text, Mr. Lemon added.

"If you have a really robust digital solution … consumers will manage themselves," Mr. Rawdan said. "If you prompt them with the right activities, they'll actually take those activities and then they won't call your call center."

To view the webinar recording and learn more about VisitPay, click here. 

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