Covenant Health is a Massachusetts-based multistate health system with deep roots in the communities it serves. The organization currently has 100 physician practices and clinics, along with more than 5,000 employees and providers.
St. Joseph Hospital, a member of Covenant Health, faced a significant challenge in connecting patients to much-needed financial aid.
Despite being aware of the existence of the thousands of programs that provide philanthropic aid for patients, it encountered a critical gap in its approach – namely in personnel. Without a full-time team to enroll patients in these programs, the hospital simply did not have enough hands on deck to manage the processes that go along with enrolling patients, staying up to date on the latest program requirements and changes, staying on top of the required paperwork, and more.
“Compounding this issue is that many patients weren’t – and still aren’t – widely aware of these programs, meaning they didn’t have the resources they needed to advocate for themselves in this area,” said Stephen Forney, senior vice president and CFO at Covenant Health. “Even if they were made aware of these programs, the complexity of the application process could dissuade some from pursuing assistance on their own.
“This disconnect between the availability of aid and patients’ access to it was a pressing concern, and we recognized there had to be a more efficient and effective way to bridge this gap. That’s when we introduced the hospital to Atlas Health, which we saw as a solution that could streamline the application process, identify eligible patients more accurately, and ultimately improve our patients’ access to affordable care.”
Given the challenges it faced, St. Joseph Hospital quickly joined in on Covenant Health’s wider mission to bridge the gap between patients’ access to and availability of financial aid.
“Atlas Health approached the hospital’s president, John Jurczyk, to share a demo of the software and ways they were able to address the unique challenges that St. Joseph Hospital and Covenant Health as a whole were facing,” Forney noted. “Their proposal included a few key components that stuck with John.
“Providers cannot afford to overlook opportunities to support their patients and add value to the organization.”
Stephen Forney, Covenant Health
“The first aspect of the program that hooked them was the extensiveness of their database,” he continued. “It was truly a game-changer because it streamlined the process of identifying assistance options for their patients while also keeping program information up to date.”
Instead of relying on manual searches or incomplete information, the hospital discovered it could trust Atlas Health to match its patients with the best financial support available, he added.
“Second, Atlas Health’s proposal emphasized the importance of empathetic patient advocates that will truly go to bat for their patients,” he said. “The advocates were a critical element in addressing St. Joseph Hospital’s personnel issues, as they would have a dedicated team available to work with patients, walk them through each step of the application process, and help them overcome any barriers they might encounter along the way.
“This human touch was essential, and it would ensure that patients felt supported and empowered during their most vulnerable moments,” he added.
Finally, the platform’s workflow automation really shined in the proposal, Forney said.
“As you might know, administrative tasks can be quite time-consuming for providers and the healthcare industry has continuously looked for ways to streamline them,” he continued. “By automating routine processes like document collection and verification, Atlas Health could significantly expedite the application process without tying up providers or introducing the risk for errors or delays.
“This was a huge plus, and it provided a solution for them before an issue was even introduced,” he added.
The results achieved through the implementation of the technology have been truly remarkable, Forney said.
“One of the most significant successes has been the amount of financial assistance secured for patients,” he reported. “St. Joseph Hospital alone was able to secure more than $1M in aid for more than 60 patients in less than six months, and they’ve seen a 420% increase in philanthropic aid support overall.”
ADVICE FOR OTHERS
“The healthcare industry has always been challenging and has become even more so with the fallout from the pandemic,” Forney noted. “Providers cannot afford to overlook opportunities to support their patients and add value to the organization.
“Using a system to access philanthropic aid is an excellent example of applying technology to value creation,” he continued. “Trying to access such programs manually, or not at all, is suboptimal for providers and patients alike.”
Covenant Health has had tremendous success with applying technology to this opportunity, he concluded, and it is looking forward to finding new ways to enhance value with technology in the future to improve the lives of patients.
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Source : Healthcare IT News