How does Change Healthcare encourage innovation? With a 'Shark Tank'-style tournament, says AVP of Product Management Carmen Sessoms

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Carmen Sessoms, assistant vice president of product management at Change Healthcare.

Ms. Sessoms will speak during the Becker's Hospital Review 4th Annual Health IT + Revenue Cycle Conference on "RCM Technology: From Holy Grail to Integrated Processes," at 1:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: In the past 12 months, how have you adapted to new patient experience expectations in the age of consumerism?

Carmen Sessoms: In healthcare today, providers are starting to reevaluate the revenue cycle from the patient's perspective. Today's patients often come from the "Yelp" generation. More and more, they're searching for the best price and want recommendations for the services they plan to have. After housing costs, one of the biggest items in many patients' budgets is their healthcare. So, it's not surprising that they are focused [on] getting the best value for their dollar. They pay attention to things like quality scores, waiting room times, scheduling convenience, flexible hours, a self-service portal and so on.

With this mind, we are looking at strategies to help empower and equip providers to enhance the patient experience. It all starts with patient access. From scheduling and registration through pre-authorization, the patient will become engaged when they have clarity on financial expectations and better provider communication throughout their healthcare journey.

Q: What is the biggest barrier to price transparency in the healthcare industry? 

CS: Providing estimates can be an effective way to be more transparent. However, there is a danger in setting an expectation about costs, particularly with a self-service estimation tool. If the provider is going to put an "average" price out there for the public, then they have to have disclaimers. These estimates should be just that — estimates — and in many cases, should serve as a starting point for further discussion about patient's out-of-pocket costs and payment options.

Q: How do you promote innovation within your organization? 

CS: My team is committed to developing an internal communication plan for new healthcare IT innovation. We take part in town halls, internal team trainings, webinars and media development to showcase key industry trends, hot topics and any net-new product enhancements or solutions we are working on. The goal is to get everyone excited about where the industry is going, and how Change Healthcare is helping both providers and payers achieve quality outcomes and improve the patient experience. Change Healthcare also encourages participation in innovation tournaments like "Shark Tank" to pitch their ideas and proof of concepts to our leadership teams. The winning projects are then incorporated into our roadmaps. In addition, Change Healthcare has a patent process [that] encourages all team members to participate in proposing and creating innovative solutions. 

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