The electronic health record (EHR) is the most significant health IT investments many health systems will make. For this reason, most healthcare executives continually seek to maximize their platform’s performance, rather than view them as a “one-and-done” implementation.
The clinical side of healthcare has taken the ball and run with this philosophy, leveraging the EHR and third-party technologies to foster dynamic initiatives in areas like population health, care management, and virtual health.
Unfortunately, that level of innovation hasn’t found a permanent home on the financial side of the health system, which remains a frustrating morass of disparate billing systems, data silos, and poor integration.
Patient payments comprise a significant slice—about 20 percent—of the average health system’s revenue. Yet, most patients are forced to navigate a decentralized billing journey sunk in duplicative processes, multiple bills and reams of paper will negatively impact the entire health system. It’s not exactly a day at the beach for billing personnel, either—having to work within a framework of inconsistent processes, poor billing design, and re-work.
Optimizing EHR performance with an innovative, well-integrated financial health technology platform can help health systems provide a clear and transparent pathway for patients to manage and control their billing obligations while eliminating many of the costly and manually-driven inefficiencies that plague the billing department.
Adopting some best practices from the clinical side of healthcare, here are concrete ways health system financial leadership can leverage the EHR to innovate the billing process.
The Rules of EHR Innovation
1. Any solution must play well with the EHR.
The success of any new technology, overlay or organizational initiative often depends on its ability to play well with the health system’s EHR. Well-executed interoperability makes it easy for providers to use the tool and ultimately makes it easier for the consumer to interact with the provider. The easier it is for the consumer to interact digitally with the hospital or health system, the easier it will be for them to ultimately resolve their financial obligations, and it will be easier for the providers to actually give them that experience.
A financial health tool that seamlessly integrates into the EHR can not only eliminate current inefficiencies, like manually entering payment information, but prevent new problems from emerging, including disrupted workflow or added administrative burdens to bridge poor interoperability.
2. Make use of available data.
At VisitPay, we live by the mantra: “One-size-fits-all billing actually fits no one.” Success in the era of the patient-as-payer era is understanding who your patients are and meeting them where they are at. While EHRs are terrific repositories of patient information, they weren’t designed to apply those billions of data elements to personalized payment plans and other financial health strategies.
A specialized tool, like VisitPay, can maximize EHR performance and versatility by applying the health system’s own patient data to design and deliver a better experience. With an optimized EHR, providers can take an inside-out approach to understand consumers’ ability to pay and propensity to pay. Once all of that data has been analyzed, providers can begin designing programs and offers that make sense for their patient base in a “mass customized” way.
3. Automate key processes.
In a digital age, manually driven processes quickly lead to inefficiencies, redundancies and a templated consumer experience. As everyday consumers, patients are used to receiving information and program terms that are customized and relevant to their individual needs. They are also used to making decisions and moving forward with them instantly. It’s the experience they expect, which means healthcare organizations who offer this experience will gain a significant competitive advantage over those that cannot. Creating this consumer experience is difficult, if not impossible to accomplish with legacy systems alone, however. Healthcare organizations that want to deliver at this level will need to invest in a platform that enables them to tailor data-driven offers that can be fulfilled automatically.
As patients continue to shoulder a greater percentage of the cost of healthcare, providers need to find ways to get more out of their EHR investment. Optimizing EHR performance with an innovative, well-integrated financial health technology platform can help health systems provide a clear and transparent pathway for patients to manage and control their billing obligations while juicing the performance of their biggest technology investment.