If you’ve read anything about AccessOne, you’ve likely come across the phrase: access to affordable healthcare for all.
Behind it lies a single concept: health equity.
Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to live their healthiest life—regardless of their social or financial circumstances. And ensuring health equity is a sure way to success, both for patients and providers.
Policy, economics, and demographics all play a role in delivering equal health opportunities. But healthcare providers, and revenue cycle management (RCM) teams especially, can take action to ensure that all patients can access good healthcare.
What Is Health Equity?
Health equity is the idea that everyone, regardless of their social background, age, gender, or current circumstances, should have the same opportunities to attain good health.
It’s no secret that certain groups of people find it harder to secure decent healthcare, when compared to others.
Just as an example, a 2021 study showed that the uninsured rate for the American Indian and Alaska Native population was 21%, whereas it was just 6% for the U.S. White population.
For an in-depth look at who is affected by health inequalities, and why providers should care, read our article on the topic.
To achieve health equity, we must address a number of social, environmental, and demographic determinants that contribute to health disparities. This means adopting policies and programs at governmental and institutional levels, but there is also a lot we can do to work through this issue, right within our healthcare teams.
4 RCM Strategies to Drive Health Equity
In our society, there are real obstacles to affordable and accessible healthcare. As healthcare providers, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to turn the situation around.
Healthcare revenue cycle management teams are one of the groups that have the power to champion health equity. Here are four actionable strategies that administrators can adopt to remove barriers to patient care.
1. Price Transparency
Price transparency promotes health equity by making healthcare costs predictable for all patients. Nothing quite undermines confidence in healthcare like the uncertainty of healthcare costs.
Transparency includes providing clear, easy-to-understand cost estimates for services, and discussing potential out-of-pocket expenses—all from the first contact with the patient.
This builds trust and aligns the patient with the provider, who must act as a true health advocate, rather than having their own economic self-interests in mind. Price transparency contributes to overall patient satisfaction, as it demonstrates interest in a patient’s overall health: physical, financial, and emotional.
In fact, providers are more likely to retain patients if they publish pricing for common procedures, as price transparency is an essential feature for more than 45% of respondents in a recent survey.
2. Flexible Payment Options
Financial barriers to healthcare disproportionately affect low-income and marginalized communities. Patients should have the easy and convenient option to pay in full or spread payment over time.
Affordable patient payment plans and mobile payment solutions like AccessOne MobilePay can work through this issue. By allowing patients to spread a predictable cost out over time, you can help make sure that they are confident enough to seek and access healthcare.
Nondiscriminatory payment plans, especially, foster health equity by reducing disparities in health outcomes. With AccessOne, all patients get approved for the same terms regardless of their credit background which promotes equity. By providing access to ongoing care and follow-up appointments, patients have a higher likelihood to continue necessary treatment (or engage in preventative care), which can prevent health complications and improve outcomes.
Mobile payments can be as simple as it gets—easy-to-use app and no websites to log in to. RCM teams can simultaneously improve access to healthcare and communication with patients, all while cutting administrative costs related to paper billing statements and customer service.
Ultimately, flexible payment options foster trust and encourage a healthy, transparent, ongoing relationship between patients and providers.
3. Competent Communication
Our country is becoming more racially and culturally diverse than ever before.
Being culturally sensitive in all interactions between providers, healthcare administration, and patients promotes health equity by understanding and respecting each patient’s unique context. In turn, patients feel comfortable and are more satisfied with your service.
Addressing diverse needs, especially as they relate to financial literacy, is fundamental to foster a rewarding patient experience. RCM teams can provide material in multiple languages and consider employing staff members who can communicate effectively with patients from different cultural backgrounds.
A culturally competent communication eliminates confusion, fosters patient understanding and confidence, and minimizes barriers between providers and patients. Your RCM team’s goal should be to ensure patients fully understand their financial responsibilities and payment options.
4. Commitment to Investing in Inclusive Programs Services
In the name of health equity, patients should not be put in the spot of choosing between their physical and their financial health.
RCM teams should consider investing in programs or technology that specifically address health equity objectives within local geographies. These investments could be technology for earlier interventions, programs or initiatives that support community health, or adopting telehealth services to take down barriers for underserved patients.
For example, telehealth services may address the needs of a population for whom taking a day off work or finding childcare poses substantial financial hardship. If the price is too high, many patients might opt to skip a necessary doctor’s appointment or medical procedure.
Consider partnering with organizations outside of healthcare to address health equity like government entities, nonprofit or religious groups, and local businesses. Utilize finance data points to uncover how healthcare affordability and socioeconomic factors predict potential care disparity.
Healthcare should be available to patients when and where it’s convenient for them. By investing in inclusive programs, services, you can provide flexible, cost-effective healthcare options that contribute to health equity and improve health outcomes for patients.
Pursuing Health Equity Means Better Outcomes for All
Every way you look at it, making health equity a priority means better outcomes for everyone involved.
Better healthcare access for all patients, and ultimately, higher revenue for providers who put patients’ well-being at the center.
You don’t have to shoulder the responsibility all on your own. By partnering with AccessOne, your revenue cycle management team can easily remove barriers and promote accessible, affordable healthcare.