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Reorienting the Patient Payments Process: What Healthcare Leaders Have in Common with Olympic Athletes

2016_Summer_Olympics_logo.svgThe lead up to the Olympics have made me think: If you want an illustration of reinventing yourself to achieve excellent results despite challenging circumstances, the Olympics provide a wealth of examples. Dana Torres is a twelve-time Olympic medalist (and a former world record-holder, too) who competed in five Olympic games. At age 41, she was the oldest swimmer ever to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team. With age and injuries working against her, she wouldn’t quit―and figured out how to keep succeeding.

Venus Williams, fresh off winning Wimbledon in doubles with her sister Serena, will once again be going for the gold in Rio. Williams, at 36, is closer in age to many of her opponents’ parents; she was also diagnosed in 2011 with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease, and yet she continues to compete at the highest level with unmatched grace.

Whether gymnastics or track and field, you can likely recall at least one athlete who persevered and prevailed despite injury, unfortunate circumstances or even age. We are drawn to these personal triumphs because they inspire us in our daily lives as well. Like preparing for the Olympics, reorienting healthcare organizations’ business models around their patients can be a daunting proposition. It requires time and perseverance, plus understanding the situation and evolving your approach. If you’re willing to do that, you can accomplish what seems as implausible as competing in five consecutive Olympics; for instance, collecting 90% of patient balances in full.

What does reorienting the patient payment process entail? Several components; for example:

  • Providing a patient estimate at time of care so patients clearly know what is expected of them
  • Educating physicians so they understand the value, and frankly the necessity, of upfront collections
  • Prioritizing one-on-one financial discussions with patients to educate them about their payment options

Many other process changes can help, too. The white paper, New Collections Workflows Raise Challenges for Physicians & Staff, includes tips and insights from revenue cycle and healthcare leaders at a recent MGMA roundtable. Download your copy today…and enjoy the upcoming Olympics!