Over the past year, patients and healthcare organizations confronted new challenges related to planning, receiving, providing and paying for healthcare as COVID-19 thoroughly disrupted the industry. Now, we must turn the patient experience “on its head” to keep up with the evolving demands for a safe, secure, consumer-like experience.

Patient-facing advancements that were once aspirations — such as minimal-contact healthcare, telemedicine, contactless payments and customizable payment plans — are now urgent priorities for providers across the country. The ability to address these priorities requires innovative perspectives from across the industry.

Thought Leadership Perspectives

During Liftoff PGH’s[1] virtual healthcare innovation conference on December 15, PNC Healthcare led a panel discussion on industry-leading perspectives that are helping to improve the patient experience. Senior Vice President of PNC Healthcare Innovations Mary Butler-Everson, Head of PNC Healthcare Product Management and Delivery Laurie Olender, CEO and Co-Founder of Vecna Technologies Debbie Theobald, and President and CEO of AccessOne Mark Spinner commented on major industry trends. They also discussed how their respective organizations are helping to reshape the patient experience in today’s new normal. Below are key takeaways from their discussion:

Delivering the Patient Experience Is No Longer Business as Usual

Technology that drives the consumer experience has found its way into many industries. From airlines to fast food, patients are benefiting from innovation outside of the healthcare industry.

Now more than ever, they are anxiously waiting for their healthcare providers to follow suit. But why are some providers only considering innovation now? During the Liftoff PGH discussion, Butler-Everson explained: “We just haven’t employed it because we were able to just keep getting by with what we’re doing. This crisis puts a spotlight on it — that we can’t do business as usual.”

One example of COVID-19’s impact on “business as usual” is patient intake. Providers are reimagining the “waiting room” due to infection control mandates and patient safety protocol. Turning this “business as usual” process on its head, some providers opened their phone lines for traditional patient intake purposes. Others adopted consumer-driven technology for both telehealth and in-person visits. Providers are also investing in touchless patient registration, zero-contact check-in, and virtual waiting rooms to better serve their patients safely and protect their staff.

The Financial Burden of Healthcare Shifts to the Patient

While this trend is not new, COVID-19 has intensified a shift that places the financial burden of healthcare on the patient. “COVID has been an income shock to many Americans,” said Spinner during the discussion. “There is an intense income and income security shock that is affecting the behavior of consumers.”

With this in mind, healthcare providers are actively seeking ways to help patients answer the questions, “Can I afford care?” and “How can I pay for this?” Transparency and flexibility can help the patient not only understand the cost of their care, but also discover strategies to repay out-of- pocket costs. Providers have the opportunity to consider offering innovative solutions for patients to understand, pay and/or finance their care.

Continue to Innovate and Adapt in 2021 and Beyond

As healthcare providers evaluate how to best serve patients safely and protect their staff in 2021, it is important to keep patients’ evolving needs in mind.

“We’ve seen our clients really look at how they can reallocate, redeploy and optimize their assets so that they can change the way they are interacting with patients,” said Butler-Everson during the discussion. “We expect that we need to continue to employ automation and technical advances if we are actually going to be able to deliver healthcare the way other consumer services are delivered in the home and at the workplace, and to do that we have to use more advanced technology.”

2020 was the year of disruption. It was also the year to reimagine the patient experience and turn old thought “on its head.” Deborah Theobald gave the innovative example of her company’s telepresence robot, VGo, which has become increasingly popular. “Providers are getting even more creative in not only providing care with this technology, but to safely train, visit and provide remote assistance to patients in need,” said Theobald.

Stakeholders must take responsibility to keep up the momentum of this consumer-centric approach in 2021 and beyond.

How PNC Is Helping to Improve the Patient Experience

Meeting patients’ demands for an intuitive, retail-like experience and providers’ requirements for patient and staff safety, PNC Healthcare offers innovative, consumer-driven technology applicable for offsite or in-person visits. PNC Healthcare’s Patient Self-Service follows the patient from pre- arrival to post-care to settlement. It also provides a comprehensive patient-centric experience with touchless patient registration, zero-contact check-in, virtual waiting rooms and contactless payments.

Patient Self-Service includes features such as:

Digital clipboards, which collect new patient information, screen patients, and provide pre- loaded questionnaires such as those used to screen for COVID-19.

Digitized forms that patients can access and fill out. Healthcare registrars process the forms using a web-enabled device that minimizes patient contact and streamlines the intake process.

Patient check-in via mobile devices or kiosks, give healthcare providers the ability to triage patient flow. For example, this technology provides estimated wait times and gives providers the ability to let patients know when they can enter the office.

Invoice presentment capabilities allow patients to view and pay their estimated or outstanding bills online. Patients can also receive electronic reminders for outstanding bills, which can help reduce the number of receivable days outstanding.

PNC’s Payment Gateway and Patient Self-Service give patients the opportunity to pay from pre-arrival to post-care. The seamless, comprehensive solution can accept patient payments onsite and online, as well as through IVR. The PNC Payment Gateway supports numerous payment modalities, such as credit, debit, ACH, checks, HSA/FSA, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

To learn more about how PNC Healthcare can help bring ideas, insight and solutions to you, please contact your Relationship Manager or fill out a simple Contact Form and we’ll get in touch with you. To learn more about PNC’s Patient Self Service click here.