Lasting Changes: How COVID-19 May Change Healthcare for Good
It’s not hyperbole to state that COVID-19 has changed the world. The 2020 pandemic has killed over a million people worldwide, shuttered entire national economies and dramatically reshaped the way we live. Mask wearing, work-from-home and social distancing have become an omnipresent aspect of life and radically changed how our societies work, eat, educate and entertain.
As the most critical public health crisis in a century, it should then be no surprise that COVID-19 has also reshaped healthcare. Social distancing has mandated that regular checkups and doctor visits move online. Telehealth, once a medical novelty, has instead blossomed into a budding new industry. As many as many as one billion virtual visits could be logged this year. In a recent article for MedCityNews, AccessOne CEO Mark Spinner outlines how the pandemic has permanently transformed healthcare in three major ways.
Digitally Driven Interactions
The most prominent change driven by COVID-19 has been a universal push for distancing in social interactions. The six feet buffer of space is now ingrained into our societal consciousness. Along with social distancing came a preference for digital over face-to-face interactions. For healthcare providers, this means online scheduling, email and text communications, and a sign-in process that ditches the shared clipboards in favor of digital billing and medical histories.
This digital transformation is especially pertinent for revenue teams. Patients looking for minimal human interactions will respond best towards processes that seamlessly move patients through the different parts of a revenue cycle with fewer touchpoints. Some examples include online scheduling, pre-filling of medical histories and preferences online, or even allowing virtual visits and consultations.
Anticipate Financial Stresses
2020’s challenges are stressful for everyone. For your patients, they may be experiencing dire financial straits, anxiety over their health or loved ones, or a general fear associated with the year’s events. For healthcare providers to successfully retain and satisfy patients, they need to anticipate and proactively address patient concerns.
Revenue cycle teams should engage with current patients early and often to discuss potentially delayed preventative and necessary care. Healthcare providers should diligently work to remove barriers to care and treatment, creating flexible payment or financing options to ensure patients feel comfortable paying for care. This is crucial as millions of Americans have lost jobs during the pandemic, including often employer-provided health insurance. Low-interest and no-interest financing options with flexible terms can go a long way towards alleviating patient concerns and ensuring retention and responsible payment.
Highlight Accurate Pricing
Another major element in keeping loyal patients during this difficult time is ensuring that all treatment estimates are both accurate and transparent. Patients facing financial stress will be especially sensitive to cost when seeking treatment. The best way that providers and revenue cycle teams can address these concerns is to share cost of treatments in a friendly format, as well as promote affordable payment options such as financing, charity care, or patient insurance coverage.
Doing so will not only prevent patients from abandoning treatment due to out-of-pocket sticker shocks, but it will also help nurture positive patient experiences that will last past the pandemic. Patients who grow to trust their healthcare providers during this difficult stretch, will likely remain loyal and engaged consumers.
How AccessOne Can Help
Finally, navigating the unique challenges of COVID-19 means adopting innovative solutions. One is using third-party patient financing companies such as AccessOne. AccessOne provides low-interest and zero-interest financing plans for all patients. All patients can qualify for an AccessOne plan that allows for flexibility in both monthly payments as well as term limits. Because AccessOne is patient driven, their plans can allow for greater flexibility. For example, plans that allow patients to reduce their monthly payment amounts in exchange for longer terms.
When patient payment plans center on patient needs and experiences, both sides win. Providers and revenue teams create positive relationships that lead to greater patient loyalty and satisfaction. While patients can maintain financial health and dignity while still pursuing needed medical care and treatments.