Better Than A Surly Receptionist

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13 April 2009
While checking in at the airport earlier today, I was reminded of some conversations that once took place at a former employer. While working for a major HMO on the West Coast years ago, I was involved in discussions about how to reduce the number of front-office staff at hospitals and medical centers. At the time, there was some futuristic planning about replacing a portion of the workforce with kiosks. I am now beginning to wonder if the future is beginning to come into view. Last week, NCR published survey results that reported that, "62% of consumers are more likely to choose a healthcare provider that offers the flexbility to interact via online, mobile, and kiosk self-service channels versus a provider that does not." I found this totally believable; few of us (who are sick and generally unhappy when we visit a provider) relish the interaction with medical support staff (who are often over-worked and deal with annoying patients all day). For patient and receptionist alike, kiosk technology could be a win-win. More importantly, kiosks would be extremely beneficial for providers. As those of you who read Celent's report "The Retailish Future of Patient Collections" already know, many providers are doing a miserable job at managing the patient revenue cycle management (RCM) process. With a swipe of a healthcare ID and/or payment card, kiosks could automate the RCM process, especially the steps of registration, insurance eligibility verification and collections (including "right-time" adjudication). Sound far-fetched? 1o years ago, airport kiosks seemed far-fetched as well. If healthcare is to become more "retailish" as Celent firmly believes, kiosks will likely be part of the infrastructure.

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