Healthcare payments rejuvenation: A process success story

Discover how the University of Wisconsin-Madison finessed its payments system and trained its staff for a more modern infrastructure.

Tags: Payments, Healthcare
Published: July 19, 2018

In the previous article, we explained how older healthcare payment processes have crippled patient engagement. In this article, we share a story of how an organization modernized its systems and improved its patient satisfaction rates.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital and Clinics (UW Health) recognized that they wanted an even more efficient method of processing clinical and non-clinical payments. UW Health sought to adopt modern payment standards. Here’s how they worked to streamline their systems.

 

Consistency across all payment channels

UW Health initially had multiple systems in place to deal with varying payment methods. Cards, checks, cash, online payments, mobile payments and lockboxes were managed independently — putting a massive strain on their finance teams. Patients valued the flexibility in payment options, but without a consolidated system and unified standards for processing payments, the finance team spent too much time managing each disparate system.

The UW Health team worked to integrate a unified, consolidated system for processing both clinical and non-clinical payments on campus. A single interface provided consistency in design, allowed patients to complete their transactions more efficiently, reduced calls to customer service and built goodwill for UW Health among its patients.

A single interface also benefitted UW Health staff by allowing them to train with just one standard system. Ease of use worked for patients and staff simultaneously.

 

Removing redundant processes

As UW Health administrators analyzed their previous systems, they identified areas where the payment processes overlapped. They then drew up inventory maps to highlight these duplications, taking special note of the age and distribution of those systems.

With this knowledge, UW Health worked to remove those redundancies. Migrating to a unified, single system allowed them to simplify payments routes and better inform new vendors as they entered the system.

 

Teaching staff to ask for payment upfront

For UW Health, modernizing their payment processes meant training staff to ask for payment up front. The longstanding practice in healthcare of treating first and billing later has left many hospitals struggling to recoup patient costs. UW Health sought to break that mindset, and change old cultural norms.

“It required us to undertake a culture shift when talking with patients about payments,” said Mark Fleming, Director of Revenue Cycle at UW Heath. “Many of our staff had been doing things one way for many years. Getting them to become more comfortable with requesting payments was challenging.”

 

The result: A boost to efficiency and relationship

The three aspects mentioned here — payment consistency, process refinement, and cultural training — all contributed to a more effective payment infrastructure for UW Health. They were able to meet the increasing customer demand for flexible, convenient and secure payment methods, strengthening their already stellar reputation with patients.

These changes don’t happen overnight, but they have been crucial to long-term success in the healthcare payments space. Even a partial process of consolidation and standardization can help your organization meet new customer demands, and that’s where we aim to help.

In our final article, we explain how you can help your organization break the cultural norms may be slowing your payment collection processes.


For more information on the UW Health journey, read this white paper on payment process consolidation.
 

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