Ascension’s new strategy embraces consumerism

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Patients vote with their feet, and economics are forcing many of them to forego medical services altogether. Large percentages of people in our country cannot pay for care and are afraid to seek care if they can’t pay. Retail experiences showing people what services really cost are non-existent. CarePayment, a leading patient financial engagement company, surveyed 1,000 Americans. Key findings reveal:

  • 44% of people would not receive needed medical care, even if it put their health at risk, if they would face out of pocket expenses of more than $500.[1]
  • 64% reported delaying or avoiding medical care at least once in the last year due to medical costs.[2]

Providers depend upon patients and payments. People who skip treatment, as well as those who don’t pay, put a severe strain on today’s models. Modern Healthcare writer, Alex Kacik, says, “Consumers are circumventing hospitals to find cheaper outpatient care and have trouble paying on time or at all when they end up in the hospital.”[3]

For several months now, we’ve been asking how hospitals and other service providers plan to survive and compete in this disruptive market. Ascension has made news with its multi-layered strategic plan to do just that. One of the giants is waking up to the fact that traditional methods of healthcare delivery are changing, and they need to evolve their model. Part of Ascension’s strategy is to become less hospital-centric and to invest in telemedicine services as well as expand its reach in the revenue-cycle arena.

Ascension is embracing consumerism.

According to Modern Healthcare, “As the largest Catholic health system in the country aims to reduce its hospital footprint and trim its leadership structure, it will look for partners that provide care in other settings, such as urgent care, skilled nursing, home health and telemedicine. It will also focus on growing its ancillary businesses, including its revenue-cycle management, group purchasing and investment arms.”[4]

Ascension’s CEO, Anthony Tersigni, is quoted as saying: “There has always been a need for hospitals in our country but not as many as we have today. We don’t need to control everything. What we need to do is collectively control the patient experience along the continuum.”[5]

Part of controlling the patient experience has Ascension vastly expanding its digital capabilities to provide patients with access to telemedicine. In addition, the provider is planning to improve price transparency and unify its billing system, according to Modern Healthcare.[6]

We applaud these moves by Ascension. Providing telemedicine services will help bring costs down and give more people access to affordable healthcare. Expanding revenue-cycle products will strengthen the financial picture for Ascension and other providers. And price transparency is good for everyone.

As Ascension moves toward price transparency, we urge its senior leadership to consider providing patients with a full retail experience. Provide consumers with an app they can use to shop, schedule and pay for services, including telemedicine. HealthQRS has the app and can integrate fully with existing systems to give Ascension – as well as any hospital system – a retail experience that provides actual pricing, navigates people to the lowest cost/highest quality services and gives them a way to complete the transaction, all from a smartphone.

HealthQRS’ robust medical marketplace has the platform to allow consumers to connect to telehealth services in addition to other services and procedures. Not only do we have an online marketplace that provides a full retail experience including accurate pricing (not just estimates), but we are enabling technology that provides telehealth connectivity as well. Our technology enables people to connect to more cost-effective, consumer-oriented healthcare options. If they opt for an in person visit, we can even help them find a ride to an in person visit, whether via Uber, taxi cab, or public transportation, for example.

We also offer a pre-scheduling/collection service to help hospitals and physician practices collect patient out-of-pocket expenses upfront. This solution interfaces with virtually any existing practice management or hospital management system. We can handle your claims submission, claims status inquiry, ERA processing and online claim corrections. If you want to perform the functions with your own staff our point of service/pre-scheduling solution has all this functionality plus medical necessity included (except the claims services). Also, if you use our point-of-service solution for all registrations, then you receive our e-commerce medical marketplace solution at no additional cost. The e-commerce functionality can be deployed when you are ready.

HealthQRS has over 12 years of experience developing healthcare retail experiences for people and our founders have over 50 combined years of e-commerce experience. Our E-Commerce Medical Marketplace Flyer provides more information. Click here to download the flyer. We invite you to contact us right now for more information or click here to schedule a demo.

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[1]  “New CarePayment Research Shows Americans Can’t Afford Their Medical Bills,” Business Wire, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180214006069/en/New-CarePayment-Research-Shows-Americans-Can%E2%80%99t-Afford

[2] Ibid.

[3] Alex Kacik, “Ascension revamps to enter new era,” Modern Healthcare, Mar. 31, 2018, http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20180331/NEWS/180339971?utm_source=modernhealthcare&utm_campaign=financedaily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20180331-NEWS-180339971

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

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