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Patient Financial Journey Q&A: Industry Leaders Weigh-in

As health systems continue to shift their approach to address growing patient financial responsibility, one thing is certain: they’re thinking more holistically. This broadened view brings the patient’s entire healthcare experience into focus and places the patient financial relationship front and center. 

In our podcast series, we sat down with industry leaders from Intermountain Healthcare, TransUnion Healthcare, St. Luke’s Health System, Texas Health Resources, and Carilion Clinic. Specifically, we asked, “What does the patient financial journey mean to you, and how have you and your health system worked to reimagine it?” 

Here are their collective insights to aid other healthcare finance leaders as they work to transform the patient experience at their health systems: 

Todd Craghead, VP of Revenue Cycle, Intermountain Healthcare

The patient financial journey begins long before some of us may think. As the consumer, the patient is contemplating what they need to do. Maybe there’s an event in their life that occurs that brings them to us. How do we manage that flow? Right from when they are trying to find care? Once they’ve received it? How do they manage it in an effective way? And then, certainly, how do they pay for it? 

Long after the patient leaves our care, we’re working with them from a patient financial perspective to try and help them satisfy whatever obligation they may have, in a way that doesn’t harm the experience they may have had clinically when they were inside of our system. 

Tammie Jackson, HFMA National Chair and VP of GTM Strategy and Sales, TransUnion Healthcare

For me, the patient financial journey really begins well before the patient actually assumes any financial responsibility. It involves engaging patients early and improving price transparency, resulting ultimately in satisfied clients. 

It starts with the visit to a provider’s website, and how easily they can navigate that site to find what they need. Once they find those resources, patients can make informed healthcare decisions, which includes having a thorough understanding of their out-of-pocket costs in advance. 

Health systems certainly are challenging the status quo in this regard, and reimagining what a journey would look like. That journey within a reimagined system is inclusive of an easy-to-read consolidated account, billing view, an upfront display of patient financial responsibility, and customized flexible financing options they can exercise where and how they choose. 

In summary, it’s about meeting the patient where they’re at. And with full transparency on both sides.

Michael Rawdan, Sr. Director of Patient Financial Experience, St. Luke’s Health System

We want patients for life. 

We set up our designs and our processes in a way that takes into account the patient’s overall journey. The other aspect is the technology and processes we have today may not be the ones that we have tomorrow. If you think back 20 years ago, who would have thought you could manage your healthcare bills on one platform? Technology has evolved to the place where we can do that now, and we can do that in a seamless way. 

So we do think of it as a journey. We’re not quite sure exactly where the patient’s going to be, and we’re not quite sure where the healthcare environment is going to be in the next few years, but we’re going to continue to evolve along with it.

David Salsberry, Chief Revenue Officer, Texas Health Resources: 

We have technology, different payment options, and channels to turn our revenue cycle into a 24/7-type of operation. Quite frankly, we’ve borrowed a lot of great solutions from the retail and financial services industries that have proven to work. That’s been a lot of our focus over the last several years and will continue into the next couple of years. 

But I see that actually transitioning again, into what I would call kind of this consumer intelligence stage whereby consumers want information before they access care. We’ve always believed consumers ask their friends and family about who are the good providers, and we think consumers still do that today. But we think now that the consumers really are hungry for data. They’re hungry for information and there’s more data and information available to them.

Don Halliwill, Executive VP and CFO, Carilion Clinic:

Making sure that the patient can tell us at the end of their journey with us that it was easy―that’s what I’d like to hear. We started off on our journey with a focus on patient satisfaction and experience―financial return was the icing on the cake. And we continue to make progress and move in the right direction by focusing on the entire patient journey.

Head to the podcast library to hear the full interviews. 

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