Today’s healthcare system has initiated many new reforms, one of which is the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Up to 2010 around two-thirds of adults in the US reported having access to primary care providers, whereas three-quarters had stated having difficulty getting an appointment, getting off-hours care without going to emergency room, or even getting hold of advice on the phone. It has been predicted that soon under the ACA the uninsured rate for non-elderly adults will drop from 20% to 11% by 2019.
The ACA has brought in many changes which are aimed at strengthening the nation’s primary care health. Simultaneously it is implementing rates for providers and patient-centered medical homes, (PCMHs) and enhancing Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), when healthcare practitioners deliver high value patient centered care.
Thus to retain your patients in this changing healthcare reforms period, patient satisfaction is critical to obtain favorable ratings and thereby enhance reimbursements too. The ACOs, specifically can receive Medicare reimbursements if they meet certain basic criteria, one of which is to meet patient care-centeredness. Based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, produced by the University of Michigan, overall healthcare score was 75.1 for 2015, and has plummeted since 2013 when the score was 80. There are 5 crucial ways whereby patient satisfaction can be achieved
- Interdisciplinary health teams: Integration of healthcare systems physical, mental or oral providers that can co-ordinate with social workers, public health specialists to provide care and in-home support to families through Medicaid. For example ACOs in Oregon saw a 30% decrease in hospitalizations for heart diseases in the first nine months of 2013 based on this kind of team work model.
- Patient flow systems: This involves prompt scheduling of patients instead of making them wait, be it hospitals or at clinics. Prompt follow-ups and tracking their treatment will go a long way in upping your ratings which will help reimbursements increase. Quick billing with helping patients understand how the new billing systems work and having good billers who can help answer patient queries will contribute in patient satisfaction.
- Staff Interactions: Training your staff and also including vendors in the ways that you would like your patients to be treated, makes a difference. Having empathetic workers working with patients while you attend another patient, gives patients the satisfaction of being cared for.
- Automate your systems: Automating many of the minor systems like form filling, checking their insurance status online etc, will help reduce the waiting time initially and after the check-up.
- Provide Information: Let your office be the one to help provide all the information relevant to the patient’s insurance if it lacks the coverage for the required illness, or have booklets printed with respect to the new healthcare reforms and how it impacts them and what they can do about it.