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Technology key for hospital financial recovery following COVID-19

Financial recovery after COVID-19 is likely to be a slow burn for most healthcare organizations, according to a recent survey. Nearly 90% of healthcare executives expect revenue to drop below pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2020, with one in five anticipating a hit greater than 30%.

While the return of elective procedures will be a lifeline for many hospitals and health systems, the road to financial recovery remains fraught with obstacles:

  • Five months of canceled and postponed procedures need to be rescheduled
  • Worried patients must be reassured of hygiene measures, so they feel safe to attend appointments
  • Patient intake and payment processes must be modified, in order to minimize face-to-face contact
  • As the rate of infection continues to grow, providers must find new ways to also grow their revenue and protect against a further dent in profits.

The healthcare industry is unlikely to see the recovery curve hoped for across the wider economy, but digital technology, automation and advanced data analytics could help provider finances to bounce back more quickly.

4 ways technology can accelerate your post-pandemic financial recovery

1. Easy and convenient patient scheduling unlocks your digital front door

Patients want to reschedule appointments that were postponed or canceled over the last few months. To manage the backlog and minimize pressure on staff, consider using a digital patient scheduling platform, so patients can book their appointments online.

A self-scheduling system that incorporates real-time scheduling and calendar reminders will help to create a positive consumer experience, while offering analytics and behind-the-scenes integration to keep your call center operations running smoothly.

2. Secure and convenient mobile technology can enhance your telehealth services

Telehealth is the top choice for many hospitals looking to boost revenue growth and counter the impact of COVID-19, with two-thirds of executives expecting to use telehealth at least five times more than before the coronavirus hit.

Many new digital tools and strategies designed to improve the patient journey as a whole can support telehealth delivery, and help to meet growing consumer demand for virtual care.

For those beginning their telehealth journey, our COVID-19 Resource Center, which offers free access to telehealth payer policy alerts, may be the place to start.

3. A digital patient intake experience can lessen fears of exposure

Although many providers are starting to open up for routine in-person appointments again, patients may wonder if it’s safe. Proactive communication about the measures in place to protect staff and patients will be essential.

Another way to minimize concern is to allow as many patient intake tasks as possible to be completed online. Automating patient access through the patient portal can give patients quicker and more convenient ways to complete pre-registration, while contactless payment methods are a safe way to settle bills without setting foot in the provider’s office.

4. Optimize collections to bolster financial recovery

Automation can also play a huge role in helping providers tighten up their revenue cycle, find new ways to enhance accounts receivable collections and avoid bad debt.

Tools such as Coverage Discovery and Patient Financial Clearance enable providers to find missing or forgotten coverage, and help the patient manage any remaining balances in a sensitive and personalized way.

Palo Pinto General Hospital uses automated coverage checks to find out whether a patient is eligible for charitable assistance within three seconds, so self-pay accounts can be directed to the most appropriate payment plan before the patient even comes in for treatment. With fewer accounts being written off, Palo Pinto has seen a noticeable improvement to their bottom line.

The pandemic has been a wake-up call for an industry that has been traditionally slow to adopt new technologies. Ahead of a second wave of COVID-19, providers must move now to take advantage of automation and digital strategies to speed up financial recovery. Contact us to find out how we can help your organization use technology to improve the patient experience, increase efficiencies and kickstart your revenue cycle.