The Triad of Healthcare
The classical Triad of the Chinese tradition is the union of heaven, earth, and man. A loose interpretation of the Triad structure is the Master, the Red Pole (who oversees defensive and offensive operations), and the White Paper Fan, which provided financial and business advice, functioning as a liaison between the different units. Money, the making and collecting of it, drove and fueled the Triad, often to the detriment of Chinese society.
In the MGMA keynote from Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright last week, Dr. Fischer-Wright referenced the healthcare triad as the art, science, and business of any healthcare organizational structure. Like the Chinese, the business or moneymaking side of healthcare has come at the detriment of the patient. Over the years, the terms ‘patient communications,’ ‘patient engagement,’ and ‘patient-centered care’ has been used plenty, but is it actually being done? According to Dr. Fischer-Wright, the answer is no.
The business side of healthcare has become the master of the healthcare triad, rather than the patient. It’s obvious that money drives any successful business, but in the current landscape patients have become consumers shopping for the best deals in healthcare. The deals aren’t necessarily the cost of healthcare, as many Americans don’t have a say in costs, but instead, patients are shopping for their quality of care.
Healthcare is a tough business to be in, as there are more patients than ever before. Doctors, clinical staff, hospitals, and clinics are pushed to the limits. Front and back end healthcare staff have the highest rate of turnover in the industry. It’s tough for a member of your staff to call a patient with a devastating disease and push for payment. They burn and turn.
So if your front, middle and backend staff form their own triad, you can be profitable while allowing the art and science to thrive. Begin by investing in your staff through education. Studies show that the key to staff retention is through education, staff investment, and empowerment. Casey Williams, VP of RevSpring, once said, “Collecting payment is not taboo. Change the mindset from asking for money to financial counseling.” Patients both want and need help resolving the confusing costs of their care.
Begin by educating front end staff to handle exceptions. Co-pays are expected by your patients – do you collect up front, allow patients to pay 25% followed by additional future payments, or just bill everything later? Your ability to collect that copay dramatically decreases when the patient walks out the door.
76% of providers take more than a month to collect from their patients; 78% of providers typically mail more than one paper statement to patients. Create a policy and educate your staff on communicating financial responsibility to patients, who want payment transparency and (polite) communication. Track staff performance and hold employees accountable for collection goals. This is common practice among individuals in sales; the same structure can be put in place for financial counselors in healthcare.
Take advantage of technology to automate appointment reminders, insurance verification, and payment collections. You can use your cell phone to call and pay for an Uber or taxi, order takeout, and buy World Series tickets, why not use it collect your payments? Making your billing process simple and streamlined is a way to achieve mutual success.