How Hospitals can Transform Patient Experience in 2020


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How Hospitals can Transform Patient Experience in 2020

digital , 21-01-2020

At the Ada East District Hospital, a recovering outpatient reportedly used the excuse she was going to cash out and run away.      

It’s a new year, a new decade in which the old beliefs in money and payments seem to be collapsing beneath the desire for faster, simpler and convenient transactions. Advances in technology are pushing back the boundaries of what’s possible. It has spawned a new consumer culture and institutional reforms.

Healthcare reform tends to slow down to the rhythm of the healthcare delivery system. It is usually burdened by the stipulations of the Ghana Health Service and existing health regulations. However, enabling cashless payments can be a simple plug and play. It is a step towards transforming the payment experience of patients and clients. The GSM Association (2019) reports that digital payments are facilitating access to funds for health emergencies; quite difficult in a cash-only environment. This speaks to the spirit of the Patient’s Charter by eliminating a growing payment barrier at the point of care. One should not hit a roadblock or be turned away for choosing mobile payment or cards? It’s not a contagious disease. To think that they can pay for their National Health Insurance renewal using a “yam” (feature phone), but cannot use a similar means for hospital payments is shocking. Whether the hospital directly processes transactions or is outsourced to a third party (usually a bank), enabling digital payments can be a simple logistical and financial investment, complete with end-of-day financial reconciliations and audit compliance. There are hardly any unknowns; it is addressing a pressing need with a demand-driven solution.

Abdul-Razak, a Records Assistant at Madina Polyclinic knows firsthand, the difficulties clients encounter with digital payments at the facility. His account confirms an emerging trend where health workers have turned into makeshift mobile money agents, specifically providing cash-out services to clients. In some cases, clients have had to canvass the wards for a good Samaritan willing to exchange e-money for cash, sometimes the 20GHS (3.5USD) consultation fee. He particularly notes the desperation during the night shift, in the absence of accredited mobile money agents in the neighbourhood. Reports from other health institutions indicate that, although less successful today, some patients have taken advantage of institutions’ inability to process digital transactions to evade paying their hospital bills. At the Ada East District Hospital, a recovering outpatient reportedly used the excuse she was going to cash out and run away.

Evidently, investing in digital payments is a business decision; it goes straight to the hospital’s bottom line. More so, implementing a total billing and payment experience is itself a revenue centre for the organisation. It’s an end-to-end process of mapping the client’s touchpoints from the point of service through to post-service. The setup integrates all applicable payment channels such as out-of-pocket payments (cash and carry), insurance coverage (national or private) and even donations. Such investments serve the needs of more progressive health institutions, ready to seize the future. It opens up new and non-traditional revenue streams by monetising off-site and impersonal services like telemedicine and non-core health services.