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A Revenue Cycle Leader’s Guide to Patient Scheduling for Maximum Impact

From patient access and experience to revenue cycle and everything in between, healthcare organizations have adjusted workflows and staff to support telehealth, consumerism, and remote teams.

A Revenue Cycle Leader’s Guide to Patient Scheduling for Maximum Impact

Reliance on conventional, less efficient methods is not sustainable and leads to costly problems. For example, independent provider orders and patient scheduling are typically processed with a manual fax or phone approach. Strategic automation of these important tasks is necessary to continually improve provider and patient experience.

This article explores five common patient scheduling and physician order challenges and offers guidelines to positively impact your bottom line.

Content Summary

Improve pre-authorization workflow to minimize billing errors and miscommunication
Streamline order intake to reduce errors
Capture clean orders from the start
Deploy automated alerts to reduce no-shows and improve patient experience
Improve communications and loyalty with independent providers through clear, concise order status
Summary

Improve pre-authorization workflow to minimize billing errors and miscommunication

There are many obstacles related to orders and prior authorizations but a few of the top contenders are:

  • Orders lost due to hand delivery or fax
  • Missing documentation, leading to incomplete orders
  • Missing authorizations, leading to scheduling delays

21% of 182 million prior authorization contracts were fully eletronic in 2020.

16 hours per week: What physicians burn on prior authorization.

We all know what happens with validation errors and miscommunication—Medicare reimbursement rejections and denials! Here are some considerations to improve pre-authorization workflow.

  • Do your homework. The key to getting authorizations right the first time is submitting a complete request backed by correct documentation. Taking shortcuts at this stage will result in a denial. Then you have to jump through hoops, or even worse, chase down busy providers.
  • Promote transparent communication among providers and staff. Preemptive responses to referring providers’ questions can go a long way toward easing their minds. Clear and consistent interaction between your facility, the referring provider, and the patient is essential. How can you ensure consistent communication when orders and scheduling move at such a rapid pace?
  • Embrace technology. Introducing new technology to a practice or department is not a productivity hinderance. It’s a revenue booster. Strong clinical integration with RCM allows healthcare organizations to improve efficiency and care quality as well as implement value-based reimbursement models. Technology that eliminates ICD-10 and CPT code mismatches is a game changer. It minimizes delays in services and reduces cost to collect.

Streamline order intake to reduce errors

Manual order processing is labor intensive work that creates problems for order intake and puts pressure on patients, staff, and providers. Patients often don’t know who or where to call and providers don’t know where to send their orders. The domino effect results in scheduling errors, wrong authorizations, rescheduling, and gaps in providers’ schedules.

When we think about ways to streamline those processes, we want to focus on transparency for independent providers and patients. This involves reducing or eliminating numerous phone calls and manual efforts related to paperwork and fax.

Step one is to communicate with your teams to set clearly defined goals. What does the scheduling team need to improve efficiency? How can patient access decrease utilization?

Here are a few examples of technology-driven goals to streamline order intake:

  • Providers order exams or procedures at any location using the iOrder interface.
  • Providers view patient orders and scheduling status.
  • Providers receive timely patient results for diagnosis and treatment, reducing or eliminating the need for multiple phone follow-ups.

Digital outpatient orders remove error-prone manual processes and give providers better visibility into orders and scheduling. In addition to improved transparency, more time can be spent on patient care.

20% of malpractice claims involve missed or delayed diagnoses due to deficits in hand-offs between providers.

Capture clean orders from the start

We all strive to reduce denials and minimize unreimbursed services. Yet incorrect or invalid exam orders and manual coding errors abound.

One way to avoid this broken process is to validate appropriate use and focus on clean orders at the point of entry. But how?

Link all orders from all sources into a single, transparent communication channel. Consider a platform that provides a standard order format so you and your team get it right the first time, every time.

When you capture clean orders early on you’re able to minimize:

  • Inappropriate exam orders
  • Exam slowdowns due to red flags and misinformation
  • Unused modalities due to cancelled exams

Imagine what shaving 5 to 10 minutes off each order could do for your bottom line in a day, week, month, or year.

Visit our website to learn how a community hospital experienced 2% to 4% additional revenue by improving their clinical decision support workflow.

Deploy automated alerts to reduce no-shows and improve patient experience

Cancellations and no-shows represent increased overhead and lost revenue opportunities. Patient engagement and experience suffer from scheduling delays, miscommunications, and disruptions in care.

It’s more important than ever to minimize scheduling errors and resulting no-shows or cancellations that lead to lost revenue and reduced utilization.

Much like setting technology-driven goals with your team to improve provider efficiencies, the same goal-setting exercise can drastically improve the patient experience.

With auto alerts, patients can:

  • Receive procedure-specific instructions prior to arrival
  • Upload photos of and submit orders
  • Get email or text notifications and reminders
  • Access Google maps for easier navigation

While different patients might want a different digital experience, they all crave ease of access. Digital order management that deploys automated alerts provides just that.

Improve communications and loyalty with independent providers through clear, concise order status

We’re all tired of mentioning physician burnout. But that’s exactly what happens with disruptions in service due to lack of order status and transparency. Service disruption causes patient confusion and risks loyalty with your referring providers.

With digital order management, here’s what referring providers gain:

  • Faster order completion
  • Orders validated for medical necessity
  • Clinical guidance for staff to ensure correct order is placed
  • Visibility into all cancelled orders and reasons
  • Updates on order changes
  • Notifications via email, text, or platform
  • Reports of final results
  • Orders placed for multiple departments—radiology, labs, etc.
  • Hospital performance monitoring
  • Collaboration through note system for better communications

And what referring providers get to toss:

  • Duplicate entry
  • Wasted time being “on hold”
  • Fax issues
  • Lost orders

Summary

Patient scheduling is a significant step in the revenue cycle process. Now is the time to take advantage of your team’s performance, streamline workflows, leverage technology, and ease burdens on your independent providers so they can focus on patients.

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