Streamlining the end-to-end delivery of healthcare for the benefit of providers and patients

Australia’s healthcare system is undeniably world-class1. Consumer satisfaction with the availability of quality care is high, and we rank first among comparable countries for health outcomes. However, preserving that status will rely on driving efficiency gains that can help enhance the productivity of healthcare providers and the patient experience.

Commonwealth Bank and KPMG’s new report, Healthy Options, shows that friction can occur at various stages across the healthcare delivery chain. According to the providers and patients surveyed, issues can arise when there are consumer knowledge gaps, disconnected booking, payments and claiming processes, and legacy technology infrastructure. These are also the areas where improvements can make a significant difference.

Given the potential for these challenges to lead directly or indirectly to rising costs for providers and patients, the report examines the pathways to a more efficient healthcare system and connected end-to-end patient journey.

Albert Naffah, CEO of CommBank Health, says that Australia’s healthcare system remains in the early stages of its digital transformation that can bring about better outcomes for all stakeholders.

“The efficiency and resiliency of the healthcare system has been tested in recent years, putting the resources of health workers under further pressure and disrupting the patient experience. There’s now an urgent need for an easier, simpler and better-connected health journey.”

“The report confirms the potential for digitisation and responsible data sharing to provide a richer patient experience, reduce providers’ administrative overheads and deliver efficiency gains that can benefit all Australians.”

Ample room for improvement

The research highlights four key areas that can improve the experience for patients and providers across the end-to-end patient journey.

Two of these include closing consumer knowledge gaps and eliminating bill shock. With only half of patients checking their private health cover before a visit and many uncertain how much of the total cost will be covered, providers are adding ‘insurance expert’ to their workloads. This may also help explain why almost one in two patients said their gap payment was higher than expected, at least half of the time.

The third is streamlining booking processes and patient administration. The report shows that most bookings are made over the phone, and outdated or underutilised booking systems may be leading to costly patient ‘no shows’.

This may be the case for up to 30%2 of providers that send manual booking reminders or no reminders at all, which is an important issue to address given one in four consumers say they have forgotten an appointment.

And finally, the need for consistent claiming regardless of infrastructure. Providers and patients alike can be impacted by technology issues, manual claims processing or patients failing to bring Medicare or private health insurance details. 

Opportunities for better healthcare experiences

In identifying these challenges and friction points, clear opportunities to accelerate digital transformation to improve provider efficiency and the patient experience emerge.

The digitisation and automation of bookings and administration

A digital-first approach to appointment bookings and managing patient administration can reduce manual processing of claims and payments, streamline booking processes, and reduce double handling of patient information. It can also ensure providers’ existing digital platforms are being maximised.

Orchestrating an integrated patient journey

More efficient patient data capture and sharing across the health ecosystem can address the siloed nature of end-to-end healthcare delivery. This can be achieved by adopting an ‘ask once’ approach to patient information, using digital tools like chatbots to fill information gaps, facilitating data movement between providers, and personalising the experience.

Modernise technology to avoid legacy limitations

There’s an opportunity for healthcare providers to offer ‘Uber-like’ experiences for consumers by adopting more contemporary payments management systems. Moving to cloud or platform-based architecture, and integrating booking, claiming and payments processes into a single digital system can provide a seamless patient experience and reduce providers' overheads.

The research confirms that providers and patients recognise the potential for digital solutions to drive efficiencies. More than eight in 10 providers acknowledge the opportunity for digitisation and automation. At the same time, 71% of consumers agreed that a fully-digital process would make it easier and faster to book, claim and pay for appointments.3

While each enhancement along the patient journey may seem moderate in isolation, together, they can have an enormous impact. Total health spending in 2019-20 was $202.5 billion4, so even a modest 1% system-wide efficiency improvement could equate to a $2.0 billion saving. That can then be reinvested in maintaining a world-leading healthcare system.

Read the full report here

You’ll find more information about the economy, technology and sustainability, and how those insights can improve your business at CommBank ForesightTM, insights for future-facing businesses.