Monthly Archives: June 2019

3 Ways Through Which A Practice Can Enhance Patient Experience And Improve Patient Engagement

Patient experience is not just about the quality of care measurements and outcomes. Today, there are about 10 aspects that define the patient experience, and each one has its own impact to attract and retain patients within the network.

Patient experience and engagement can be defined by the following aspects,

  1. Meeting with a doctor
  2. Wait time
  3. Billing
  4. Scheduling appointments
  5. Appointment follow-up
  6. Staff interactions
  7. Pharmacy
  8. Online reviews
  9. Social media
  10. Website

Let us explore a few tips that will enhance the patient experience, improve patient engagement, drive better outcomes and keep staff engaged. We know patients actively involved in their health tend to have better outcomes, report higher overall satisfaction, and experience lower health-related costs.

Enhancing and transforming the patient experience and providing first-rate, patient-centered care revolves around the consistent development of processes to meet patients’ expectations and needs. Understanding patients’ preferences and priorities will allow practices to identify and optimize opportunities to increase comfort and reduce suffering which will ultimately strengthen the patient-provider relationship.

Let us first define exactly what patient engagement is and break down top-level strategies that practices can use to stay connected with their patients outside traditional clinic walls.

What is the difference between patient engagement and patient experience?

The patient experience is influenced by the perception of the care they received. Ultimately, patient experience represents the overall satisfaction of their personal experience with the practice, which, more often than not, is beyond control.  

Patient engagement, however, relates to the way a patient mobilizes their healthcare experience. What actions do they take that allow them to take an active role in their healthcare? What tools, technologies, and programs are available to encourage patients, caregivers, and families to play a more engaged role in administering their long-term health and wellness?

To improve patient engagement, a practice must recognize that engaging with patients is a triangular synergy between the physician, the patient, and the practice. It is about encouraging interaction between patients and providing meaningful opportunities for your patients to engage in the ways they know and are comfortable with.

1) Keeping patients engaged after they leave

Patient engagement is no rocket science. Patients want any practice to be accessible. They desire simple ways to schedule appointments, and perhaps most important of all, they want transparent and straightforward billing.

Technology has its purpose, but nothing can substitute for genuine interpersonal communication. Compassion and empathy are not something patients can get from AI or an app; they are, however, things the practice and their staff can use to promote greater engagement.

If a practice has the latest technological gadgets, it doesn’t mean that they can check patient engagement off your to-do list. Improving patient engagement is about that personal touch, human connection, feeling like taking an active role in managing healthcare delivery.

Therefore, how can a practice engage their patients? The answer lies in the space between a doctor’s visit and the following chapter in a patient’s care.

Patients have climbed on the digital bandwagon and ready for technological engagement. Patients already interact daily with different technologies, so practice should consider employing those to boost engagement. Here are some ideas that will work:

  1. Smartwatch health data monitoring
  2. Real-time educational opportunities through the website or Alexa-like devices
  3. Push notifications to remind patients to exercise, pick up their prescriptions, or invite them to special events or seminars

To impact patient experience, satisfaction, and engagement, it will be critical to concentrate on the tiny adjustments within the practice’s workflow that will have a significant impact on the patient.

2) Leverage Artificial Intelligence

Three-quarters of aging households are expected to adopt voice-assisted technology by 2020 making artificial intelligence (AI) the tech frontrunner to enhance patient engagement.

Not inconceivable is the presence of an Alexa like Bluetooth speaker running through exam rooms, performing like closed-loop HIPAA-compliant systems. Patients would be able to ask questions related to their file and diagnosis, change the TV channel or dim the lighting in the room.

Virtual reality (VR) can also drive patient engagement. Some hospitals in California are employing VR to show patients how specific brain surgeries will be performed, thus elevating patient satisfaction scores as well as reimbursements. There’s a real possibility of home care and wound care with patient and provider interacting one-on-one from different locations is just around the corner.

3) Remember who you are talking to

The language also has a great impact on patient engagement. Instead of focusing on “adherence and compliance,” the practice should try to discern the underlying social or environmental factors hindering a patient from complying with medical recommendations.

Why is a particular patient unable to comply? A practice must take the time to connect with and understand their patients. They need to have conversations, put themselves in their patients’ shoes, and then find methods to boost patient engagement and enhance overall patient satisfaction.  

Roughly 40 million U.S. adults read at a junior high school level. However, most healthcare directions are written in much more complex language (usually in tiny fonts) which cause confusion and increase non-compliance, particularly among aging populations. To fully engage patients, practices must make sure they can comprehend the instructions we’re giving them.

What does it all mean?

At the end of the day, an engaged patient has superior outcomes, reduced costs of care, and greater satisfaction overall. The more a practice develops a culture beyond the clinical atmosphere to one that connects both patient and provider through a digital culture of wellness, communication and personalization, the more the patients and the practice will benefit.

Patients demand experiences be more custom to them, and one of the best ways to deliver is to keep them engaged outside of the office, leverage technology and utilize the proper language to drive your points and treatment plans home.

How To Identify An Under-performing Referral System And Make Improvements For The Same?

For many health systems, referral leakage may equate to millions of dollars in foregone revenue. Every patient who seeks care elsewhere is a lost revenue opportunity now and potentially into the future. Thus it is important for health systems to increasingly focus on minimizing referral leakage while managing referrals. The following are the symptoms of an underperforming referral system which have a negative impact on referral leakage,

  • Disability to identify in-network or aligned providers.
  • Inept or unclear information on what patient types or conditions a provider treats.
  • Limited or no ability to measure the referral management team performance or financial outcomes.
  • Ineffective prioritization and workload management.
  • Increased authorization-related denials and write-offs.
  • Too much reliance on paper-based or manual communication and tracking systems.
  • Increased patient referral leakage due to complicated, cumbersome, or unclear referral processes.

Analyzing your organizations’ opportunity for improvement

The ability to make significant improvements in referral processing efficiency and patient retention depends on the following factors,

  • Degree of process standardization
  • Organization’s accountability
  • Underlying infrastructure
  • Organization of staff
  • Technological capabilities

Accountability and standardization of the process

There is a huge communication gap between the referring provider and receiving provider offices which makes the process inconsistent. Organizations often fail to standardize the process by defining who is responsible for

  • Obtaining prior authorizations
  • Locating a specialist with good access who will treat the patient’s condition
  • Gathering relevant medical records
  • Contacting the patient to schedule the appointment

Organizations with strong referral management programs have developed a consistent and standardized workflow that clearly delineates responsibilities by role. Achieving this level of efficiency requires that operational and clinical leadership collaborate to design and develop policies, procedures, standards, and workflows to support strong referral management practices.

Technology Systems and Capabilities

Despite having a thoughtful and disciplined approach to monitoring and managing referrals, technology systems are often unable to facilitate best practice workflows or deliver the performance data necessary to effectively manage the end-to-end process. Therefore, the following processes have been happening manually,

  • Tracking authorization status
  • Monitoring scheduled appointments
  • Calculating referral conversion rates, staff productivity, and downstream revenue

Furthermore, the inability to share information electronically among providers necessitates increased use of paper-based and faxing processes. Without the proper supporting technologies, there is increased processing effort and workload, risk of lost or inaccurate data, and, most importantly, the potential to delay patient care.

The following are the technological capabilities needed to support the best practice referral, management team,

  • Identifies providers in the referral system
  • Matches patients with the ideal scheduling providers
  • Prompts follow-up when appointments are not scheduled or care is not received
  • Facilitates the transfer of post-visit documentation between providers
  • Supports detailed reporting to manage performance

Close your referral loops with the HealthViewX Patient Referral System

Information Technology enables patient referral workflow automation. HealthViewX Patient Referral Management System simplifies the process and closes the referral loop on time.

  1. The Primary Care Provider (PCP) identifies the need for a referral and initiates the same through the EHR system.
  2. The referral coordination team then validates the referral and does the insurance pre-authorization with the help of HealthViewX solution.
  3. The Intelligent Provider Smart Search feature of HealthViewX Patient Referral Management System helps in finding the right specialist or imaging center easily.
  4. The referral coordination team then sends the referral with the necessary documents to the relevant specialist or imaging center through the HealthViewX platform.
  5. The receiving provider gets notified about the referral and can schedule appointments with the patient.
  6. The patient and the receiving provider get reminders of the appointments thus reducing no-show rates.
  7. The referring provider is also notified about the status of the referral and how it is progressing. HealthViewX timeline view makes tracking and managing the referral lifecycle easier.
  8. HealthViewX tracks and sends reminders to the receiving provider to update the diagnosis, treatment recommendations, care plans in the referral.
  9. HealthViewX makes it easy for the referring provider by automatically updating this information back to the EHR system.
  10. Thus the HealthViewX solution closes the referral loop on time and helps in easy monitoring of the same.

Features and Functionalities

  • Referral workflow automation reduces the time and manual effort spent on a referral. Thus HealthViewX solution improves the efficiency of the process.
  • Patient coordination framework achieved through the patient application that helps in managing appointments and log data for the care plans prescribed by the provider.
  • Automated insurance pre-authorization reduces the work of the referral coordination team and makes the process simple.
  • The Intelligent Provider Search feature helps in finding the right specialist or imaging center in no time.
  • Referral timeline view and communication enables an easy flow of information between the referring and the receiving ends.
  • Scheduler integration gives timely reminders and notifications to the patients and providers about appointments, lab tests, etc.
  • Referral insights and analytics gives the PCPs concrete data of how many referrals were converted to an appointment by a specialty care or an imaging center. It will help in analyzing who responds quickly and to whom the PCP can direct future referrals.

Benefits of closing the patient referral loop in the healthcare industry

  1. Increased Medicare reimbursements –  Medicare considers closing medical referral loop as a benchmark for giving reimbursements. Closed medical referral loops increase the opportunities for Medicare reimbursements for referral marketing.
  2. Streamline referral management – With HealthViewX Patient Referral System in place, the referral workflow is automated and streamlined.
  3. Improved patient care – Reduced waiting time gives patient satisfaction thereby improving the care quality.
  4. Increased productivity – Reduced operational time improves the efficiency of the patient referral system.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management application helps in closing the referral loop and increases the revenue for the practice. To know more about HealthViewX solution, schedule a demo with us. Our patient referral management experts will guide you through our HIPAA-compliant solution.

Why Should Federally Qualified Health Centers Give Virtual Communication Services To Their Patients?

Virtual communication services in FQHCs

With effect from January 1, 2019, CMS has released a new reimbursement plan for FQHCs. It says,

“FQHCs can now receive payment for virtual communication services when at least 5 minutes of communication technology-based or remote evaluation services are furnished by an FQHC practitioner to a patient.”

The patient must have had an FQHC billable visit within the previous year, and both of the following requirements are met:

  • The medical discussion or remote evaluation is for a condition not related to an FQHC service provided within the previous 7 days.
  • The medical discussion or remote evaluation does not lead to an FQHC visit within the next 24 hours or at the soonest available appointment.

Virtual Communication in the age of COVID-19

On March 27, 2020, the Federal Government signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The CARES Act was developed to support the American economy during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Section 3704 of this Act allows FQHCs to utilize telehealth services to access eligible Medicare beneficiaries. The price for such long-distance telehealth services is $92. 

How can FQHCs receive payment for virtual communication services?

To receive payment for Virtual Communication services, FQHCs must submit an FQHC claim with HCPCS code G0071 (Virtual Communication Services) either alone or with other payable services. Payment for G0071 is set at the average of the national non-facility PFS payment rates for HCPCS code G2012 (communication technology-based services) and HCPCS code G2010 (remote evaluation services) and is updated annually based on the PFS national non-facility payment rate for these codes.

What is the payment rate for G0071 and G2012?

HCPCS code G0071 is set at the average of the national non-facility PFS payment rates for HCPCS code G2012 (communication technology-based services). HCPCS code G2010 (remote evaluation services) and is updated annually based on the PFS national non-facility payment rate for these codes. For 2020, the payment amount for code G0071 will be $13.53 (average of HCPCS codes G2012 and G2010).

What types of practitioners in FQHCs can furnish virtual communication services?

Technology-based communication and remote evaluation services are billable by FQHCs only when the discussion requires the skill level of an FQHC practitioner. FQHC practitioners are physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, clinical psychologists, and clinical social workers. If the discussion could be conducted by a nurse, health educator, or other clinical personnel, it would not be billable as a virtual communication service.

What types of communication technology can be used?

Virtual communication services should be initiated by the patient contacting the FQHC by

  • Telephone call
  • Integrated audio/video system or
  • Store-and-forward method

The Store and forward method includes sending a picture or video to the FQHC practitioner for evaluation and follow up within 24 hours. The FQHC practitioner may respond to the patient’s concern by telephone, audio/video, secure text messaging, email, or use of a patient portal.

How can HealthViewX help FQHCs in giving virtual communication services to their patients?

HealthViewX has the following features that will enable FQHCs in providing communication services to their patients,

  1. Inbuilt audio and video calling apps – HealthViewX supports audio and video calling options that help practitioners in contacting their patients easily.
  2. Secure messaging – HealthViewX has an asynchronous messaging option that enables providers to chat with patients and discuss their health plans.
  3. HIPAA compliant data security – The solution is HIPAA compliant and offers secure data exchange. It supports almost all formats of files and keeps the patient documents safe.

With HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution in hand FQHCs can stay in touch with their patients easily. A 30-minute demo with our team will help you know how effectively our solution can give virtual communication services to your patients. To know more schedule a demo with us.