There were a total of 76 educational sessions at HFMA ANI 2015, in which 10 of them referenced “patient” in their titles. This is roughly fifteen percent. Impressive? Disappointing? I don’t have much to which I can compare it since this was my first year attending. However, I do have some insights from the sessions I was able to capture:

A cool company called Guroo (guroo.com) is forcing price transparency for patients and consumers­­­. Seems to me that payers would love the idea (several large ones are actually providing the data to fuel the project), hospitals would hate the idea, but patients (AKA consumers) hit the jackpot with this type of data. I am sure patients who are making educated decisions about their healthcare and the associated costs are more likely to pay their copays and outstanding balances—which ultimately helps everyone involved.

Another session I attended focused on the role of the patient experience with RCM (Revenue Cycle Management) at a hospital in Texas. This hospital records phone and in-person interactions with its patients so that the staff can review them if and when patients complain about their services or do not pay their bills. The hospital is able to confirm the correct information is obtained about a patient’s insurance coverage. Patients are tired of being asked the same questions numerous times in preparation for their care, and they are tired of not understanding their costs. This particular hospital is taking control of that experience to ensure it is a positive one, and as a result, they are treating an informed, happy healthcare consumer. Of note, this session did not really touch on RCM specifically. Unfortunately, the hospital representatives did not have data around how their work has improved their collection percentages— but they do have happier patients, as seen through satisfaction ratings.

Perhaps the most data-driven session I attended highlighted a hospital focused on the patient experience throughout their cost estimation process. The speaker was able to provide the proof that their focus on proactive estimation for every patient seen by their hospital had paid off. Their data showed that 70 percent of their patients were willing to pay their bill in full if they were satisfied with their billing encounters with the hospital. Also, approximately 90 percent of patients were willing to refer a friend or family member to their provider or the hospital if they were satisfied with their billing experience. Those numbers show the possible revenue that can be driven by educated and happy patients.

Providers and payers need to focus on the patient experience if they want to drive revenue and quality.