It’s hard to believe that 2018 will be history in a few short weeks – hopefully, you’ve accomplished everything you wanted to this year! However, now it’s time to make a plan for a productive, successful 2019. As you lay out your healthcare revenue cycle objectives for the coming year, ensure they are clear and trackable. This will bring them that much closer to reality.

In order to achieve your goals most efficiently, use a proven strategy, like the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) system, which has been used by Google and other companies in Silicon Valley. Hey, if Google uses this methodology, it must work, right?

The OKR system is focused on the objective you’re looking to achieve and how you will measure your progress.

What’s your objective?

Let’s say your top healthcare revenue cycle goal is to improve the patient financial experience and increase patient payments. And it should be because hospital revenue from patient financial responsibility increased by 88 percent between 2012 and 2017.

To make sure your staff prioritizes this goal, explain what it will achieve and why it is important to the healthcare revenue cycle. Outline exactly how you want to improve the experience, whether that’s through more intuitive payment tools or flexible financing options. Enhancing the patient financial experience is crucial because we believe it results in happier, more loyal patients and more payments.

What are the key results you need?

To track your healthcare revenue cycle’s progress toward its goal, you should define key results or quantifiable milestones as metrics for success. But, how can you measure something as personal and subjective as the patient financial experience? And how will you measure its improvement?

Luckily, we’ve outlined exactly how to do this in our latest white paper.

We found there are four key metrics that enable Health Systems to quantify the patient financial experience. This makes it easier to identify opportunities for improvement and track which factors impact the experience most. These metrics include patient engagement, patient participation, self-service payments, and call volume and complaints.

Analyzing patient engagement involves measuring email open rates or the number of bills sent prior to payment. With this insight, you can find ways to optimize financial communication channels and tailor patient-facing messages. To track patient participation and self-service payments, measure how many patients are paying and how. How many of those payments require intervention from staff? These metrics will allow your Health System to gauge how effective and intuitive its payment options are. Lastly, track the number of patient calls your revenue cycle staff receives and what those calls are about. Understanding why patients are calling is critical because it can reveal trends in the healthcare revenue cycle. It also helps you monitor the factors that influence changes in the patient financial experience.

How should you achieve this objective?

By tracking these metrics, your organization can methodically improve the patient financial experience and drive more patient payments. This will help you determine how attainable your goal is and exactly how you can achieve it.

For instance, if your staff receives several calls each day from patients confused about their bill, perhaps you should prioritize plain-language billing descriptors. Or, consider using easy-to-understand statements. No doubt, improving the patient financial experience will require effort but it’s a realistic goal. Partnering with a company like Patientco can make it even more attainable, so don’t forget to look at viable outside resources.

Finally, establish deadlines for milestones. A lofty goal like improving the patient financial experience should be broken down into manageable steps. Once you evaluate and quantify the current patient financial experience, you can prioritize improvements most effectively.

We believe improving the patient financial experience and growing patient revenue is one of the most worthwhile goals for healthcare revenue cycle leaders to pursue. And by taking a strategic, systematic approach, like the OKR method, that goal can become a reality for your healthcare organization in 2019.