This article is based on a recent webinar hosted by Waystar about how revenue cycle leaders can support patients, payers and fellow team members during these difficult times.
Waystar has put together a comprehensive COVID-19 resource center to connect providers with information about coding and regulatory updates, telehealth guidelines, emergency waivers and more. Our team continues to gather and author resources that can help revenue cycle teams and healthcare professionals navigate this crisis.
The spread of COVID-19 in the US has dramatically altered the healthcare landscape. We’ve seen mass cancelations of elective procedures and widespread shortages of PPE. Telehealth adoption has exploded, and entire administrative teams are working from home for the first time. From major health systems to small primary care practices, providers of all kinds are facing tremendous headwinds—many never seen before—and doing their best to adapt.
Patients are also experiencing challenges and uncertainty about what’s ahead for them. Like providers, patients are adjusting to telehealth and reduced face-to-face physician encounters, and trying to stay up to date with the latest from their health plan(s). The economic fallout and job loss brought on by COVID-19 has had immediate health coverage implications for millions of Americans. As unemployment figures climb, so do self-pay patient populations.
For revenue cycle leaders, efficiently managing operations and patient engagement is crucial right now. Here are a few ways you can create more financial transparency and flexibility for your patients, while easing the administrative burden on your team.
1. Leverage coverage detection technology
Often in emergency cases, which account for many COVID-19 admissions, insurance information isn’t collected until after discharge. With unemployment figures as high as they are, many Americans have recently lost coverage. They may have enrolled in the Exchange, secured public assistance or plan to file for COBRA after they’re discharged. Because patients may be unable to furnish insurance information at the time of admission, an automated coverage detection tool can help rev cycle teams identify active coverage patients may not know they have, reducing unnecessary patient touchpoints and needless work for your staff.
2. Automate charity care screening
With billions of federal aid earmarked for COVID-19-related treatment of the uninsured, strong charity care screening practices are critical. Undertaken manually, financial screening is time-consuming and cumbersome, and patients can fall through the cracks. With an automated solution, you can easily identify those who qualify for assistance and avoid sending them to collections or writing off their care as bad debt. Thorough, fair financial assistance evaluation also contributes to higher patient satisfaction by limiting unnecessary engagements.
3. Adapt to telemedicine with eligibility + estimation tools
Not surprisingly, telehealth adoption has exploded in the wake of COVID-19. In fact, the volume of telehealth claims on the Waystar platform grew by 50 times since the start of April. Providers have pivoted to telemedicine to monitor COVID-19 patients and conduct routine wellness visits. More and more patients are making use of these technologies, but some remain confused by associated out-of-pocket expenses.
The industry’s best eligibility tools pull the latest coverage information and contracted rates from thousands of payers so you can easily determine if these services are covered by a patient’s plan. What’s more, you can deliver an accurate estimate of their out-of-pocket responsibility so they’re able to make informed decisions about their care and be sure they won’t receive surprise bills down the road.
4. Bolster digital engagement
Provide a safe, convenient patient financial experience with digital communications and online payment portals. Sending statements and balance reminders by text and email is faster than standard mail and allows patients to view up-to-the-minute balances and make payments online across devices.
The wrap up
Rules and regulations surrounding COVID-19 treatment are in flux, and that has a direct bearing on patients’ insurance coverage and financial responsibility. It falls on healthcare providers and their technology partners to make sure administrative teams are equipped to guide patients through the uncertainty of COVID-19 and help them weather the storm.
While front-line providers and support staff continue to serve patients, many rev cycle personnel are working remotely for the first time, which presents its own set of challenges. For more ways to strengthen revenue cycle operations and empower your fellow team members, check out our recent blog. With simple solutions and adjustments, you can take some of the stress out of this transition and position your organization well for what’s ahead.
Waystar delivers cloud-based technology that simplifies and unifies the healthcare revenue cycle—and brings more transparency to the patient experience.