With mounting financial challenges, much has been written on how the back offices of rural hospitals can weather an uncertain future. But front-end customer touchpoints are equally important and often overlooked in maintaining a hospital’s financial health.
Patient access processes and products include how patients register for an upcoming exam, schedule a follow-up appointment, fill out paperwork, provide insurance information and more.
These initial touchpoints are crucial to providing the level of service your facility needs to stand out in competitive markets. In this blog, we will outline two critical components of patient access that rural hospitals can focus on to streamline internal workloads, increase revenue, and improve the patient experience.
Imagine if your schedule didn't live in Outlook, Google Calendar, or an online shared drive, and you had to keep track of your appointments the old-fashioned way: on a paper calendar with highlighters, pens—maybe a big red circle around some important target date. Now imagine you use this paper calendar to keep track of scheduling at a small hospital, and you share it with everyone else in an office.
If this sounds unpleasant, you might be shocked to learn that it's the workaday reality for registrar offices at small to midsize hospitals all across the country. Without access to software that allows for system-wide scheduling, excel spreadsheets, whiteboards delineated with electrical tape, and even paper calendars are often relied upon to keep track of the care schedule for an entire community.
Aside from the obvious drawbacks of using outmoded technology—lost time and money, lack of access and interoperability—manual systems create a higher instance of mistakes resulting from human error. Handwriting might be misread. Sticky notes lose their stick. Excel spreadsheets shared by several people have a nasty habit of filling up with erroneous data.
These little issues and annoyances can add up on a hospital’s balance sheet over time. For instance, according to the Healthcare Management Association, each lost appointment that results in a no-show can cost a hospital, on average, over $200.
What’s worse, it can be hard to know where improvements need to be made; anytime something is done on paper (e.g. scheduling) the ability to identify poor workflow is almost non-existent.
A scheduling platform gives registrars intuitive electronic systems to use, it is easier to train current and future staff on, local and corporate leadership can set standards, and software providers can receive user feedback that drives continuous improvement.
Whether it’s over the phone, at the front desk, online or in an app—the important thing is that you give your patients the option to register for appointments in a way that works for them.
Registration software can provide patients with self-service options that satisfy their expectations while freeing up front-office staff to assist those who wish to call or discuss their needs in person. It also provides a more modern look and feel, more intuitive tools for staff, and a host of features and functionalities to save time.
Besides providing patients and staff with greater convenience, automating registration processes also has considerable financial benefits. Medical claim denials, for example, often result from information being improperly entered during registration, or not obtained at all. The process of resolving these denials can be lengthy and creates additional downstream costs for your facility.
MEDHOST Patient Access applications support the management of all patient contact points and front-end operations. It enables patients to participate more actively in their care and aids hospitals and health systems in better managing every patient touchpoint. The Patient Access system enhances operational effectiveness by streamlining patient data entry, decreasing duplicate records, and streamlining workflow while lowering administrative expenses.
Are you ready to ditch the paper calendar? Call us at 1.800.383.6278 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.