Hospitals and health systems continue to have challenges as they move on from the COVID-19 pandemic, but hospital margins rank as one of the top concerns. In the first eight months of 2022, median hospital margins were negative and it’s predicted hospitals will have the worst financial year in decades as a result.
The cause is due to multiple factors working against the provider’s favor including labor shortages, increases in expenses and fewer profitable services. Some of it can also be attributed to avoidable, wasteful spending that tech companies (like Upfront) are trying to reduce.
There’s only so much a provider can do to alleviate these challenges, but that doesn’t mean hospitals and health systems are out of options.
Here are some critical steps hospitals and health systems can take to reduce expenses and save money.
Encourage Patient Activation
Patient activation is closely tied with patient loyalty according to a recent report from Accenture. Patients are eager for digital health solutions, and in 2021, 78% of patients left their provider because their healthcare navigation experience was poor. For the 48% of health systems that don’t have a digital strategy, this is especially troubling considering the best way to attract healthcare consumers is by getting them eager to use your services.
But providers also have to consider the different types of patients out there. Some are especially motivated to meet with their doctor and go over their health goals while others don’t make time to care for themselves. And then there are those that avoid the doctor like the plague.
That’s where psychographic segmentation makes a difference. Psychographic segmentation looks at the internal motivators that pushes a person to do something including values, beliefs, ideals and personalities. This segmentation model has been used in the retail industry for decades by world-class companies, such as Procter & Gamble, Walmart, CVS and Geico spearheading the model. It made its way to healthcare in the last decade and Upfront created a model that categorizes healthcare consumers into five segments based on their approach to health and wellness.
- Self Achievers (21%) – This segment is the most proactive healthcare consumer segment due to their willingness to act on their health goals and achieve them. Self Achievers like working with their doctor to improve their health in all capacities.
- Balance Seekers (15%) – This segment takes a thoughtful approach on their health, driven by gaining knowledge and being open to alternative healthcare options. Balance Seekers are wellness-focused and like to look into multiple options before making a decision, so they aren’t easily swayed by doctors.
- Priority Jugglers (12%) – This segment sets their needs aside to care for their families while managing a busy schedule. Priority Jugglers take a reactive approach on their own health, but again, will do whatever it takes for their loved ones to get the care they need.
- Trustful Responders (15%) – This segment appreciates guidance from their doctors and they value their expertise. Trustful Responders may not do everything their doctor tells them to do, but that’s typically because they have a hard time fitting changes into their routine.
- Willful Endurers (37%) – This segment is the least proactive healthcare consumer segment, but they have their reasons. Willful Endurers live in the moment, so their health isn’t their top priority, and they prefer to do what makes them happy. They will wait until they absolutely have to go to the doctor.
By integrating psychographics within the patient experience, providers can not only encourage loyal patients to continue using their services, but they can also attract new ones. Learn more about how Upfront’s Bartosch Institute for Patient Activation Research can help providers utilize these insights to improve patient experience.
The last thing a hospital wants is a patient returning to the hospital after being discharged for an unnecessary ER visit. It negatively affects patient outcomes and engagement, but can also drive costs or trip CMS’s readmissions penalties. Readmissions have become so much of an issue that hospitals have been encouraged to reduce them over the last decade through the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP).
Recently, providers got some relief since the penalties were eased as a result of the pandemic, but it gives providers an opportunity to make improvements to their processes while they have some relief.
Upfront can keep patients from returning to the hospital by improving patient transitions of care. When providers keep their communication channels open through a patient engagement platform, patients stick to their care plan and don’t go back to the hospital, saving providers time and money while giving patients the best experience and care possible.
Close Care Gaps
Many patients fell through the cracks early in the pandemic and the results are sombering. Cancer screenings dropped, especially in March and April 2020 when they dropped 80%. And rural hospitals have faced the brunt of closings with 30% at risk of closing, hitting those populations hardest.
While the pandemic has spurred more options like telehealth and remote patient monitoring to close gaps in care, patient communication through digital health platforms continues to be the key connector to increase patient recall visits and close gaps in care.
Upfront’s work with OSF Healthcare is a good example of this. When the pandemic impacted OSF’s breast cancer screenings, Upfront used a personalized digital communication strategy to appeal to patients in need of scheduling a mammogram. This resulted in 34% of patients scheduling mammograms, on par with pre-pandemic numbers.
It’s never too late to help patients get the care they need. Addressing gaps in care not only improves health outcomes, but also improves the bottom line.
These are just some of the ways Upfront can help providers deliver the right care at the right time to patients while increasing revenue. Learn more about what we offer by trying out a demo today.