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How Consumers Benchmark Healthcare Services, and What Healthcare Companies can do to Improve Their Experiences

by Jeff Smith on March 30, 2018 at 9:17 AM

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Benchmarking in healthcare revenue cycle management has long been considered a standard practice. Having a good understanding of how an organization compares to others in the industry helps set goals and allocate resources on areas in need of focus.

Internally, organizations frequently look at days in accounts receivable (AR), collection percent, days to process and accounts work per FTE for various follow-up and data entry functions, comparing this data against historical results from year to year as well as results from other companies in the industry.

However, while much attention is paid to the revenue cycle metrics, very little is paid to the patient experience itself and how patients “benchmark” their experiences with healthcare providers and their vendors. In a world of increasing high-deductible health plans and healthcare consumerism, benchmarking the patient experience, and understanding how the patient “benchmarks” their own experience, is key.

Comparing Healthcare Experiences to More Frequent Consumer Experiences

As a consumer myself, I’m grateful that my annual visits to healthcare facilities total only two or three. I’m loyal to my primary care physician, so I don’t do a lot of comparison shopping among the different providers, services and locations available to me when I must make these visits.

How, then, do I benchmark my family practice provider or outpatient center when I visit? I compare my weekly and monthly experiences outside of healthcare to those I have in the healthcare industry.

Since I have a PO box, I visit the post office at least once a week. Further, since I travel frequently, I interact with airlines, hotels and car rental agencies many more times a year than my healthcare provider. Other consumers may visit a gym, movie theater, restaurant, grocery store or coffee shop many more times during the year than a healthcare service. These non-healthcare related interactions are the basis consumers use to benchmarking of healthcare industry services, regardless of whether or not they are doing it purposefully. 

Benchmarking healthcare services with services you frequent involves asking simple questions such as:

  • How easy is it to book an appointment compared to booking a hotel room?
  • How long do I wait to be seen compared to how long do I wait to be seated or served at a restaurant? What happens during the time that I’m waiting? Where do I wait?
  • How am I greeted when I walk into the healthcare facility compared to how am I greeted when I go to the local coffee shop?
  • How easy is it to understand the economics and process for payment for healthcare services compared to how I pay for my gym membership and classes?

These are just a few quick examples of how consumers can benchmark healthcare services by simply having the services they use every week as the point of comparison.

Taking Steps to Improve the Healthcare Consumer’s Experience

Here at Intermedix, we are frequently discussing how patients “benchmark” Intermedix when they have an experience that requires interaction with our company. The healthcare industry is moving toward increased transparency for consumers, which makes benchmarking fairly intuitive and easy for us. By promoting cost of care and directing consumers to online and mobile interfaces to access information about us and our clients, consumers can make the most informed decisions when it comes to their health.

Outside of the revenue cycle and billing world, providers can focus on many ways to improve the consumer’s experience, including enhancing things such as wait times and staff empathy training just to name a few.

As professionals in the healthcare industry,  we need to be aware of the advancements happening around us and find ways to incorporate, develop, evolve and imitate similar technological enhancements to make our patient experiences as efficient and effective as possible.

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This post was written by Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is a Senior Vice President of Revenue Cycle Management at Intermedix. He has more than 26 years of experience in Revenue Cycle Management and Practice Management. Prior to joining Intermedix, Smith held Senior Vice President at PSR and Chief Billing Officer at Physerve. Smith earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting at Brigham Young University and holds a MBA from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Smith is also a CPA, CHFP, and CMPE.