Identifying Opportunities for Healthcare Post-COVID

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The impact of COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve seen in this lifetime. It’s altered the way each of us lives, works and engages in ways previously unimaginable. Without question, the healthcare sector has taken the biggest hit as frontline doctors, nurses and staff members go to work every day, leaving their families at home and jeopardizing their own safety, with their sole mission to keep us healthy.

The pandemic has also taken an economic toll on the healthcare community. Elective procedures and services deemed non-essential have been postponed or brought to a halt, forcing practices across sectors to take drastic measures, from temporarily shutting down operations for anything other than emergencies to closing their doors altogether. Ophthalmology, dermatology and orthopedics are just a few examples of such sectors. Already feeling pressure from the challenge of increased competition, these practices in the wake of COVID-19 are revisiting how they do business and seeking new ways to boost patient relationships and drive revenue.

But with states loosening restrictions and patients beginning to reconsider that LASIK procedure or cataract surgery they were contemplating late last year, there is tremendous potential in the second half of 2020 and beyond for practices to thrive. The key is preparedness and ensuring they have the right tools and technologies in place to help them capitalize. One example – electronic self check-in technology enables more frequent, effective and efficient touch points with each individual patient, giving practices greater opportunity to communicate, engage and educate. This allows them to:

  • Promote new services and premium procedures to existing patients versus increasing their spend on new-patient acquisition.The trusted relationship between physician and patient is typically built for the long-term. This foundation gives existing patients confidence and increases the likelihood they’ll consider a new procedure. Electronic self check-in can help identify prospective candidates when they arrive for an appointment through a series of targeted questions presented during processing. For example, based on a patient’s profile information, they could be presented at check-in with questions and information about elective procedures like Botox injections or dry-eye treatment. Depending on the patient’s response, the physician can choose whether to recommend a given treatment. This automated approach makes the physician aware of a potential opportunity before the appointment takes place, but without the need for a “hard sell” or awkward conversation.
  • Educate patients in advance of an appointment so they’re more familiar and comfortable with a potential procedure. Fear and uncertainty will very often cause patients to postpone or avoid a procedure altogether. Early education and regular communication can put the patient at ease and address concerns that may be preventing them from moving forward. Electronic self check-in can play a significant role in automating the sharing of information, allowing the practice to educate the patient via mobile device prior to their appointment so they’re better prepared and can engage in a more productive conversation with the physician.
  • Help patients find the “silver lining” amongst all this pandemic chaos. While COVID-19 is wreaking havoc at every turn, it could present an opportunity for patients considering elective or non-essential procedures. For example, those anticipating hip replacement surgery could take advantage of the current work-from-home environment to balance recovery time and work responsibilities, eliminating any uncertainty about when they should return to the office or how to fit in the physical therapy they’ll need in the aftermath. Or, they could apply their stimulus checks to cover costs for that liposuction procedure they’ve been thinking about. Practices that can factor current circumstances into the information or suggestions they use to counsel patients will create a “win-win” for both sides.
  • Increase collections and reduce claim denials discreetly by addressing payment status during an in-office visit. Payment and reimbursement conversations are always a challenge in an open environment in front of a waiting room full of patients. But those in-office appointments present too valuable an opportunity to address such issues to let them pass by. Enter electronic self check-in – practices are increasingly turning to electronic self check-in systems to boost point-of-service collections. The self-service kiosk simply and privately presents the patient with their balance due and the opportunity to pay by credit card with the just the touch of a few buttons. The technology can also help automate insurance eligibility verification at check-in, before services are even administered – it can run real-time eligibility checks, process transactions in real time, connect directly with insurance providers, add intelligent data to claim forms and even format forms based on the provider’s requirements.
  • Increase patient capacity by streamlining patient processing. While quality of care is the greatest priority for any practice, the administrative side is also critical as it lays the foundation for the rest of the patient experience. Unfortunately, the upfront processing can be a bottleneck, limiting the number of patients a practice can schedule in a given day, and potentially causing frustration and delays for the patient. With electronic self check-in, practices can automate and expedite much of the upfront administrative process and, in turn, free up resources and time to engage with more patients.
  • Reduce front-office expenses and redirect those resources to revenue-generating or value-add activities. There’s significant cost associated with maintaining a front-office staff, and while some level of support is important, much of the administrative processing can be conducted more quickly, accurately and efficiently with technology like electronic self check-in. The investment in those front-office resources can then be redirected to promotional efforts like local advertising or community engagement, or it can be reallocated to cover additional headcount for associates or nurses who can treat more patients. 

Today’s new reality is forcing healthcare practices to rethink their most immediate paths to revenue growth. Fortunately, the greatest opportunities very likely already sit within these practices as they exist today. To capitalize, practices need to take advantage of automation and technology that give them the freedom and capabilities to reinvent how they engage with patients. Those that do are poised for greater resiliency long term for a successful practice in a post-COVID world.

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