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Revenue cycle software is ripe for reenvisioning, design experts say

Software that fails to take the human element into account can lead to poor results among users and dissatisfied patients alike.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

When choosing enterprise software systems, hospital IT executives might do well to consider not just technical requirements, but also the human elements. That is: Picking software that is user-friendly for staff and patients. 

Margarita Gonzalez, Branch Chief in the Socio-Technical Systems Division at Georgia Tech Research Institute, said she hears from many clients that they hate their software tool.

[Also: Cleveland Clinic's remote revenue cycle program saves money and makes employees more productive]

Making that better boils down to looking at the design and taking into account that you have an individual in a setting where they are already multi-tasking, so how do you minimize clicks and the cognitive effort required to enter important data?

"It's reenvisioning how you capture and structure critical data so it is more easily searchable and retrievable," Gonzalez said.

[Also: HIMSS18 Revenue Cycle Solutions Summit: Driving a patient-centered experience]

The need to make every part of a healthcare experience positive for a patient-consumer must also include the revenue cycle as it boosts payment, reduces collections, and retains patient loyalty.

All too often, a thorny revenue cycle experience turns negative and now, as they would for other retail experiences, patients publicize their poor experiences on Yelp, Facebook, or Twitter, harming a provider's reputation in the process.  

Steve Scibetta, who serves as General Manager of the Healthcare Business Unit for Ontario Systems, said there is a major consumer appetite for multiple means by which to communicate with providers.

"At least 50 to 60 percent want online and mobile payment strategies but less than 10 to 15 percent are actually given that option," Scibetta said.

Right now in healthcare, most providers lack the full complement of communications that major retailers generally boast, like inbound and outbound calling, texting, email and being able to schedule a call back if you don't want to wait on hold. All of these things we expect when we deal with our major retailers, yet they are notably absent from provider capabilities.

"When you do connect with the patient, you want them to have accurate concise timely information. You owe them a complete picture of their healthcare experience," Scibetta said.

In addition to patients, improving revenue cycle tools is critical to how hospitals empower their staff as well.  

Gonzalez's colleague Shane Owens, Health IT Design Lead in the Socio-Technical Systems Division at Georgia Tech Research Institute, added that a lot of revenue cycle management focuses on optimizing cash flows and accuracy of data and a lot of systems currently out there do this in a way that is very technically-minded. They don't take into account that it is humans using the system.

"It's important because at the end of the day the way people use software is going to be influenced by how their day is going or what their life is like, for instance how much patience they'll have to do a particular activity in the software," Owens said.  

If a given software product causes them to take more time than what they'll have the patience for, as an example, they're either not going to use it or use it in a way that's not intended. And that could have poor results.

Those poor results can be everything from declining productivity and inaccurate data entry to compromised data integrity and analytics

Gonzalez and Owens will be speaking in the session, "Treating People Like People Drives Success," scheduled for Monday March 5th, from 3:05 to 3:25 p.m. in the Wynn Hotel. Scibetta will be a panelist in the session, "Making the Revenue Cycle a Differentiator for the Consumer," scheduled 9:20 to 9:50 a.m.

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Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sanborn@himssmedia.com

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