The first step in redesigning the health care delivery process for ambulatory care begins with the patient and the business processes that support the patient. Patient-related business processes include patient access, service documentation, billing, follow-up, collection, and payment. Access is the portal to the clinical delivery and care management process. Service documentation, charge capture, and payment and collection are supporting processes to care delivery. Realigned provider networks now demand realigned patient business services to provide their members/customers/patients with improved service delivery at less cost. Purchaser mandates for cost containment, health maintenance, and enhanced quality of care have created an environment where every aspect of the delivery system, especially ambulatory care, is being judged. Business processes supporting the outpatient are therefore being reexamined for better efficiency and customer satisfaction. Many health care systems have made major investments in their ambulatory care environment, but have pursued traditional supporting business practices-such as multiple access points, lack of integrated patient appointment scheduling and registration, and multiple patient bills. These are areas that are appropriate for redesign efforts-all with the customer's needs and convenience in mind. Similarly, setting unrealistic expectations, underestimating the effort required, and ignoring the human elements of a patient-focused business service redesign effort can sabotage the very sound reasons for executing such an endeavor. Pitfalls can be avoided if a structured methodology, coupled with a change management process, are employed. Deloitte & Touche Consulting Group has been involved in several major efforts, all with ambulatory care settings to assist with the redesign of their business practices to consider the patient as the driver, instead of the institution providing the care.
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