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'Digital natives' will lead the healthcare consumer revolution

Gerilynn Sevenikar, vice president of revenue cycle Sharp Healthcare, says millennials will reshape the healthcare landscape.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Gerilynn Sevenikar speaking at the Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit during HIMSS18 on Monday.Gerilynn Sevenikar speaking at the Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit during HIMSS18 on Monday.

Las Vegas -- Millennials are going to drive sweeping change both in patient care and the healthcare industry at large. And it's a good thing, Gerilynn Sevenikar, vice president at San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare, said Monday at the Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit during HIMSS18.

She pointed out data that showed 2018 millennials will have the most spending power of any generation in 2018 with $3.39 trillion, and in 2025, 75 percent of the national workforce will be millennials who grew up with social media and consumer-centric technology, hence her name for them: "Digital natives."

Social media will make a greater impact on the healthcare industry and potentially consumer trends as well. Sevenikar said 42 percent of people will look at consumer health-related reviews, 32 percent will post about a family's healthcare experience and 27 percent will post about their own experience.

"So it's clear that all generations are comfortable with some form of technology when it comes to health-related technologies."

Sevenikar said revenue cycle is the patient's first and last impression of the provider/system, so when building the consumer center of the future, you have to focus on the personalization of encounters and consumer preferences. Sharp's goal with their shared consumer center was to employ kindness in concert with patient collections when fielding calls from patients.

"When I think about personalization, imagine if recurring patients, when they walked in, were greeted by name and really made it a personalized encounter. That's the direction we want to go."

She said 82 percent of consumers listed getting their issue solved quickly as the number one factor in consumer experience, and millennials want digital self-serve options for appointments and scheduling. Sharp answered that demand with their self-serve billing portal, where patients can view statements, pay bills, download statements and view current invoices broken down by hospital clinic. 

"Patients can pay their full balance or for a specific visit. There is document repository as well so they can see any forms provided to them at the hospital."

Since its launch in 2017, over 10,000 invoices have been paid online and in 2018, the work will continue on the online platform to include those paying with checking accounts, and in setting up recurring payments or long-term installment plans.

But healthcare must also focus on the experience of employees, Sharp said. She created the role of revenue cycle experience coordinator for just that purpose: to develop and polish all patient-facing materials, respond to and evaluate all consumer escalation calls, design and execute staff training and evaluation for world-class service delivery, be a disruptive force for "business as usual" and to manage the revenue cycle service continuum.

Sevenikar said Sharp relies on a millennial workforce that is tech-savvy and competitive, expects a fun, flexible, purposeful work environment and wants real-time feedback on their performance. Sharp uses game-playing techniques, or gamification, to monitor and motivate their revenue cycle workforce. They deployed their employee game board, wherein each employee creates their own avatar and can see their performance tracked hourly or by the day, as well as how they stack up against their colleagues through a digital leaderboard. Employees get digital "capes" for their avatar and reward badges to denote awards and positive recognition.

It also shows inactivity and tells managers in real time if an employee is performing unusually so they can course correct. Sevenikar recognizes employees for who had the best day, record-setting days, highest cash capture and most improved performance. 

This type of access and interactive relationship between Sharp and its employees and consumers could be a prototype for preparing for how the generational makeup of the consumer population will affect healthcare.

"That's what makes a difference to that next generation healthcare consumer and employee," Sevenikar said.

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