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How can healthcare providers solve for patient burnout?

Published: May 9, 2023 by Experian Health

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The COVID-19 pandemic and economic volatility cast a spotlight on America’s healthcare system, revealing many complications with patient access. Most patients and providers agree: patient access along with financial strain, are major contributors to patient burnout and delayed or lapsed healthcare. Healthcare providers can help ease the burden for patients by taking steps to implement digital solutions that make access to care easier.

What’s causing patient burnout?

Today, there are many contributing factors causing patient burnout and most have to do with patient access, according to the latest Experian Health data. In fact, 21% of patients feel that patient access today is much worse than in previous years. And 80% of patients feel that the biggest challenge they face is seeing a doctor quickly.

Frustrating experiences with registration and inaccurate estimating – all parts of patient access – are burning patients out, too. Nearly half of patients (49%) have trouble finding appointments that fit their schedule and 40% say the process to schedule an appointment is one of their top issues. And when they’re finally able to be seen by a provider, patients are often met with understaffed offices, overworked physicians, long waits and rushed appointments.

As a final blow, patients are also finding themselves faced with higher-than-expected medical bills thanks to inaccurate pre-treatment estimates. In fact, only 29% of patients say they received a cost estimate before care, and of those who didn’t receive an estimate, 41% said the final costs for care were more than expected.

Today’s patients are seriously fed up, and providers agree. Nearly half (47%) say that patient access is worse than in the previous two years. Close to 90% of providers (87%) also feel that staffing shortages are contributing heavily to poor patient experiences along with outdated technology (21%).

The State of Patient Access 2023 report is based on a new survey, fielded in December 2022, that gathered responses from 202 healthcare professionals responsible for patient access and 1,001 patients who engaged in care for themselves or a dependent in 2022. It is the third survey in a series fielded by Experian Health since 2020.

Building a better patient experience

A positive patient experience begins with simplifying patient access. In fact, according to a recent Experian Health report, more than half of patients want more digital options to manage their care (56%) and have even considered changing to a provider that offers better access. To retain existing patients and attract new patients, healthcare providers need to have digital patient access solutions in place. From the ability to register for appointments online to mobile payments, a digital front door can help providers create more satisfactory patient experiences.

Not only can digital tools improve the patient experience, but it’s also the starting point of the revenue cycle and accounts for registration, scheduling, gathering insurance information and collecting co-pays or deductibles. And it’s where 30% to 50% of denied claims initiate, thanks to inaccurate patient information, lack of real-time insurance verification and manual processes, among other factors.

Alex Harwitz, Experian Health’s VP of Product, Digital Front Door, says, “When we think about how digital front door solutions can solve for patient burnout, the answer is simple. What’s good for the patient is good for the provider. Our latest Experian Health study has shown us that patients want more access. They’re looking for functions that are easy to use and don’t take up a lot of time. When providers provide streamlined digital solutions, it leads to better patient access experiences that directly result in better business outcomes for the practice.”

Introducing automated patient access solutions can help healthcare practices give patients more control over their healthcare, reduce claim denials and alleviate some of the issues caused by short staffing. Recent data from Experian Health and PYMNTS also found that a third of patients opted to fill out registration forms for their most recent healthcare visit using digital methods, while 61% of patients said they’d consider changing healthcare providers to one that offers a patient portal.

Automated patient access solutions can offer high-quality service without limiting care options, providing an ideal win-win situation for both patient and provider alike.

Automate patient access with digital solutions

According to recent Experian Health data, over 46% of providers are planning to invest in digital front door capabilities in the next six months. This shows a growing recognition of the importance of digital patient access solutions among healthcare providers. Automated digital patient access solutions can help healthcare providers improve patient access, reduce waiting times, and increase operational efficiency, among other benefits. Some of the automated digital patient access solutions that providers can consider investing in include:

1. Patient registration and scheduling

Using integrated registration and scheduling solutions, such as Experian Health’s Registration Accelerator, Patient Scheduling software, and Patient Outreach, can help providers create a better patient experience before they even see a provider. Automating intake online can simplify registration processes, while reducing administrative costs and boosting revenue.

When patients have easy access to schedule appointments online 24/7, there are fewer gaps in care and providers have reduced staff call times and more time to collect billing. Plus, providers can automate patient outreach messages and offer the ability to self-schedule via IVR or text – giving patients even more access.

2. Patient payment tools

26% of patients say that paying for healthcare is harder than ever, and 77% of healthcare consumers say it’s important to understand the cost of their care before getting treatment. But it’s still the norm for patients to go into procedures without knowing what they’ll ultimately owe. A tool like Experian Health’s Patient Financial Advisor can send patients accurate cost estimates and easy payment options ahead of time.

Estimates using the Patient Financial Advisor are based on real-time patient benefit information, the provider’s payer contracted rates and provider pricing. By giving individuals a clear understanding of their costs and payment prior to a medical procedure, providers can help their patients feel more financially confident. A built-in payment portal also offers methods to make a secure payment, resulting in fewer billing delays.

3. Patient estimates

According to recent Experian Health and PYMTNS data, 4 in 10 patients said they spent more on healthcare than they could afford, but when they know the costs upfront, they feel empowered to make better decisions about their healthcare. Although there are measures in place to help ensure self-pay and uninsured patients receive a good-faith estimate up front, such as the Price Transparency Final Rule and the No Surprises Act, inaccurate estimates can still be an issue.

Using a digital solution such as Experian Health’s Patient Estimates, can help providers meet regulatory requirements, create a positive patient experience and bring in faster payments. Plus, estimates are more accurate as they account for payment plans, prompt-pay discounts, state-mandated discounts as well as other types of financial assistance policies for self-pay patients.

Reduce patient burnout with digital front door solutions

To reduce patients’ financial strain and ease their frustration with access to care, providers must make it a priority to adopt digital solutions that better serve patient needs. These digital front door capabilities not only help increase access to care but also provide a personalized experience for each individual. Digital patient portals, online appointment scheduling, patient estimates – all of these can help deliver better outcomes and drive efficiency for both patients and providers. By implementing these digital patient access solutions, healthcare providers can create a more efficient and convenient patient experience, reduce administrative burdens, and streamline their revenue cycle management processes.

Learn how Experian Health can help healthcare organizations implement digital front door capabilities that can improve patient access and minimize patient burnout.

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