If there's one industry that has been the focus of scrutiny related to spiraling costs, burdensome paperwork and archaic procedures, that industry is health care.
Except in rare cases, long gone are the days of the family doctor, where the office staff knew patients by name and it was possible to call in the morning for an afternoon appointment. Instead, someone calling for an appointment today may be lucky to see a doctor in less than a month, and the first question a patient is likely to be asked is "who is your insurance carrier?"
For new patients, an initial appointment is likely to include at least 30 minutes in the waiting room filling out a variety of forms related to insurance and medical history. And once the patient makes it into the examination room, doctors rarely have time to spend counseling him on wellness and preventative care.
If the health care system in the United States isn't completely broken, it's in desperate need of an overhaul. And in many situations, one of the tools slated to help perform that overhaul may be a self-service kiosk.
According to the National Health Statistics Group, spending on health care in the United States was approximately $2.6 trillion in 2010, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and more than eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980. U.S. health-care spending in 2008 was nearly $7,700 per resident, more than 16 percent of the country’s gross national product and among the highest spending of any industrialized country around the globe.
And that trend is not expected to change. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. health care spending is projected to top $4.5 trillion in 2019.
Nearly everyone agrees that finding ways to control these costs is a national priority. Winter Park, Fla.-based Adventist Health Systems is using kiosks and other self-service technologies to do the job.
In 2006, Adventist Health Systems began investing nearly $1 million to incorporate self-service procedures in its operation, according to a case study published on ModernHealthcare.com. Among the company's goals were to accelerate and increase collection of patient bills, improve patient satisfaction, streamline workflow and eliminate inefficient paper-based processes.
Adventist Health Systems, the largest Protestant health care organization in the United States, operates 44 hospitals and employs 55,000 people. Adventist Health System hospitals have 7,700 beds and provide care for 4 million patients each year in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room visits.
The driving force behind the project, according to ModernHealthcare.com, was industry statistics showing that, on average, hospitals collect only 35 percent to 65 percent of patient payments. Patient payments are projected to account for as much as 30 percent of provider revenue by 2012, so anything the hospital can do to increase those collection figures flows directly to the bottom line.
Self-service registration kiosks were a major component of that makeover, along with an online patient portal and the ability to collect payments online.
Since the project was implemented, registration via the self-service kiosks has reduced average patient waiting time by four minutes, resulting in improved patient satisfaction.
From the hospital side, the reduction of inefficient paper-based processes have helped to reduce paper and postage costs — savings that can be passed on to patients. Because patients are handling much of the registration process on their own, admissions staff are able to handle more patients at once, resulting in improved labor costs. Ultimately, the project has resulted in an additional $11 million in revenue for the company, a return of more than 11 times the initial investment.
Clearly, the use of kiosks in a health care setting can pay big dividends for both patients and health care providers alike.
In this guide, learn some of the uses of kiosks in the health care industry, the potential savings, best practices and the state of the industry, as well as potential concerns and what is on the horizon.