The ROI of Healthcare Culture
Posted on August 20, 2021 by Kylene Coate
Healthcare may be an essential need with a potentially unlimited supply of patients, but the costs of running a medical practice are high and increase rapidly. Whether you operate a private practice or lead a larger group, you need to balance the cost of doing business with delivering high-quality patient care.
Making intelligent business decisions to increase your return on investment (ROI) is critical to keeping your patients healthy and satisfied and your practice in the black. You can invest in technology to simplify administrative tasks or find other ways to reduce your costs of doing business.
But have you thought about investing in your employees and creating a patient-focused healthcare culture as a means of increasing patient satisfaction, patient retention, and timely payments?
Here at KeyBridge Medical Revenue Care, we believe that our culture is the key to our success. We’re proud to have been named as a Best Place to Work in Healthcare awarded by Modern Healthcare and a Best Place to Work in Collections awarded by InsideARM.com.
Our culture is the foundation and driving force behind our success. We focus on healthcare, providing outstanding support to providers, hospital groups, and physicians by putting the patient first. Our service is an extension of patient care. We train and support our staff to make a difference in each patient’s life. As a result, we not only help your business collect outstanding payments but also increase patient satisfaction.
Throughout our article, Chris Lah, Senior Director of Revenue Cycle Management at Mayfield Clinic, helps us explore how a positive healthcare culture can enhance all aspects of your business.
What does healthcare culture mean?
If you Google healthcare culture, thousands of different interpretations of the term pop up on the results page. Holistically, culture is the identity and the way you operate and communicate with each other, the decisions you make, and how you come to make those decisions. It’s what people think about when they consider your business, in addition to your services and products. To put it colloquially, it’s the vibe your patients get while in your facilities and under your care. All healthcare facilities have culture whether that is good/bad or positive/negative.
We believe in serving others. We prioritize the needs of our team, providing support, training, and opportunities to grow, so they can show up with passion as they serve and lift others. It’s through employee happiness that your business can realize real, sustainable growth.
Why a positive healthcare culture matters
Patients have to seek healthcare, and their options are often dictated by their insurance coverage. So why does culture matter? Let’s face a hard fact. Despite the fact that the United States is facing a physician shortage, patients have more choices than ever before. Your patients don’t have to choose your practice.
Creating and maintaining a positive healthcare culture results in higher patient satisfaction, translating to patient retention and reliable payments. Chris Lah adds that “both your customers and your staff want a positive culture. If you don’t provide it, your competition will.”
Patient satisfaction is a performance metric that represents the quality of care your practice delivers. It influences patient outcomes, retention, and compliance. Some research indicates that hospitality factors matter more to patients than the quality of care they receive. We posit that medical services and patient hospitality go hand in hand.
A positive healthcare culture creates an environment where your patients feel supported and empowered. They trust that their physician and staff put their needs first, treating them as equals, not dictating the rules a patient has to follow. A healthcare culture takes effect from the moment a patient walks through the door.
Timely copay collection
Copays are a significant part of the patient experience and one area where a healthcare culture and satisfied patients can make a difference.
Patients are savvy and research their health and potential treatments while searching for a provider. Research compiled by MedData® shows that 92% of patients want to know their payment responsibility before their visit.
While costs are variable and depend on what providers diagnose and choose to do, educating and empowering your staff to communicate clearly with patients about their potential copay responsibilities contributes to a more positive patient experience. And, according to Mr. Lah, in a great company culture, the customers reap the benefits of excellent service from positive staff members.
With increased deductibles, even with the best intentions, some patients may not be able to pay their copay at the time of service. KeyBridge Medical Revenue Care offers a patient centric approach to medical bill resolution. We position ourselves as an extension of your business office.
Our carefully trained representatives don’t intimidate or hound your patients. They establish relationships and support patients in the best way to achieve account resolution. As documents such as an Explanation of Benefits are often confusing, our team helps patients understand their responsibilities.
Satisfied patients not only return to your practice for continued care, but they tell their friends about it. Research indicates that when a healthcare provider satisfies one patient, that information reaches four others. However, a frustrated or disengaged patient will share their negative experience with 10 more other people. Combined with the reach of social media, can you afford not to foster a positive healthcare culture?
How to create a positive healthcare culture
Creating a positive healthcare culture isn’t an overnight process, but it is an achievable goal that can have a meaningful impact on the success of your business. Chris Lah advises that great culture adds better definition to a company’s mission statement, which should help guide the goal-setting. It takes effort to create a culture and not allow one to develop by default. Consider following these steps:
Per Mr. Lah: “The visionary is usually the owner, CEO, or Board. I always felt that true implementers of establishing the culture is middle management. They set the tone with the hiring, onboarding, training and feedback (reward) for staff. Additionally, they have the position power to help facilitate timely process improvement and drive customer satisfaction. Lastly, they provide the upward feedback and objective data for senior leadership to make the strategic decisions – including ones that directly drive the future of the culture.”
With his guidance in mind, take some time to reflect on what your business or practice stands for — or what you want it to stand for — outside of the services you deliver. What is the ideal patient experience? How do your providers and employees contribute to that experience, and what do you need to do to encourage and support your employees to bring their A-game and passion to work every day?
Your employees are critical to this self-review. Your employees are the face of your business. Their performance significantly impacts the patient experience, creating the healthcare culture and promoting it in and outside of the office. They provide details about the day-to-day that identify areas of strength and those that need some improvement — for themselves and the patients.
Set your goals
Once you’ve explored the tough questions and identified what a positive healthcare culture means to your practice, set the goals that can guide your practice to an enhanced healthcare culture. Chris Lah gives us a good reminder that a great culture focuses on anticipating the needs of its customers, stakeholders, employees and the community it operates in.
That said, we follow the Fish Philosophy with four cultural pillars:
- Choose your attitude.
- Make their day.
- Be present.
- Have fun.
Work isn’t always sunshine and flowers, but by choosing to have a positive attitude, your team can approach each day and the challenges it brings with positivity and a constant focus on delivering an outstanding patient experience. Foster this positive mindset by publicly sharing success to help everyone see and engage with your culture.
Find ways to contribute to your patients’ and employees’ lives in positive, meaningful ways. Ensure that everyone feels heard, seen, and appreciated. Empower your employees to be there for patients. Being present and focused on the patient you’re serving creates a powerful connection, improving communication and establishing trust.
In some cases, providing medical care is stressful and unpleasant for providers and patients, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun when appropriate. Encouraging a creative environment where all ideas matter stimulates suggestions that benefit your employees and patients.
Maintain and nurture a positive healthcare culture
Chris provides some pointers as crucial ingredients to maintain and nurture a healthy healthcare culture. It starts with hiring skill sets and personalities that match “both the company’s needs and fits with the individual.” He speaks of the importance of a smooth onboarding experience with a buddy system. Providing your employees with meaningful awards such as work hour flexibility, bonus potentials, remote work options and community impact opportunities, to name a few, will enhance your culture.
Mr. Lah adds that effective communication throughout the business is essential and should be barrier-free. This includes communication regarding feedback and review processes. According to Lah, “Leadership makes the issues of all its staff a priority so that staff can make the issues of their customers a priority.” He goes on to add that this happens through empowerment and validation—both of which require effective communication.
Engage your employees
Healthcare cultures evolve. You can’t just set it and forget it. Check-in with your providers and staff from time to time to take the temperature of your office and adjust your actions and approach as needed to keep the team motivated and engaged. Satisfied employees lead to happy patients.
Not sure where to start?
If you want to learn more about healthcare culture and create one within your practice or business, we can help. Brian Garver, Senior VP, Business Development and Marketing, offers Master Classes to teach you and your team how to create and maintain a positive healthcare culture and all the benefits that follow.
A positive healthcare culture creates an environment where your practice or group can thrive. A truly patient-focused culture leads to considerable returns starting with satisfied patients and leading to improved reimbursement, retention, and a competitive advantage.
Engaged and satisfied patients are more likely to pay their copays. Additionally, high patient satisfaction scores can also lead to financial recognition from organizations such as the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program, including incentives and reduced penalties.
Increased patient confidence
Many patients find doctor’s appointments nerve-wracking. If your patients know that they will be treated with dignity and respect during every interaction, they’re less likely to delay or skip appointments.
An added benefit of satisfied patients is that they tell their friends about their experiences. Word-of-mouth referrals are a powerful way to attract new patients.
Customized competitive advantage
A deliberate healthcare culture culminates in a competitive advantage for your practice or group. Happy employees contribute to a productive and positive environment which has a compelling impact on patient satisfaction.
Patient satisfaction leads to improved payments, both from patients and third-party payers. It also leads to increased volume and revenue margin.
When it comes to the ROI of creating a positive healthcare culture, the question isn’t can you afford to invest in your team and your business. With so many benefits, the real question you need to consider is: can you afford not to?