With rising out-of-pocket spending and growing consumer demands, digital patient financial engagement is a crucial component within the modern revenue cycle toolkit. This especially applies to Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, which built a reputation for using cutting-edge technologies to treat the unique needs of their patients.
We recently had the chance to interview Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery’s Amanda Six, Vice President of Revenue Cycle, and Tara Bowen, Customer Service Manager, about their biggest patient payment challenges and how they improved the end-to-end financial experience with the Cedar Suite.
Here are the highlights from the conversation. The below interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Before implementing Cedar, what were some of your biggest challenges with the patient financial experience?
Amanda Six (AS): First and foremost, we wanted to improve our statements. Patients were craving more information, like how their insurance benefits applied, and sometimes delayed paying until they felt confident that they understood the charges.
We also saw an opportunity to improve our pre-visit workflow. The experience was a bit fragmented for patients, as we were using a standalone reminder system and manual check-in processes at the front desk. As a result, we had a higher no-show rate then.
Tara Bowen (TB): On the customer service side, high call volumes were causing some frustration. We were sending out statements twice a month with our practice management system and thousands and thousands of patients were getting statements on the same few days. We’d get steady inbound volume for a week or two and were struggling to respond to every inquiry. By the time we caught up, it’d be time for another statement push.
Beyond causing frustration for patients, it was also mentally exhausting for our customer service representatives. Burnout is a real challenge for support teams and having more self-service options goes a long way in helping staff feel supported and engaged with their work.
Let’s talk about the implementation process. What was that like with Cedar?
AS: Like any implementation project, there were some hiccups along the way but there was always a go-to person whenever we had a question. The Cedar team kept us pretty informed and the whole process was streamlined. We’d have weekly meetings and the team would listen to our concerns and come up with valid solutions that worked for both sides.
Looking back, I would say I personally enjoyed working with the implementation team. Everybody was super nice, super kind…just there to help.
TB: From a training perspective, the how-to materials were really helpful. It was all step-by-step, pretty much foolproof. As you might expect, change is never easy. But as the team onboarded and learned how to use Cedar, it became an indispensable tool.
Today, some of our customer service representatives swear by Cedar. When patients call in, they look at Cedar first—even before going into the practice management system—because they want to see what patients see before they try to diagnose the problem on the account.
How has Cedar impacted your revenue cycle performance?
AS: The biggest impact has been on patient payments. We see payments increasing and not only do we attribute this to a better statement design, but also the entire experience that Cedar enables. The combination of text messages, emails, paper bills, and the user-friendly online experience—before and after visits—has helped us streamline the end-to-end billing process for patients.
Our patients also appreciate it. Specifically, the process of setting up payment plans has been huge. They feel like they have more control and flexibility when it comes to paying their bills.
As a partner, there hasn’t been anything that Cedar could not help us with. Even if they weren’t entirely sure if they could, they would usually figure out a solution.
TB: Cedar has had a positive impact on both our customer service and patient balance teams. Patients now have more resources and options to manage their bills and don’t have to worry about dealing with a live representative if they don’t need one.
When patients do need support, our teams now have more capacity. Previously, our customer service representatives were not able to take as many calls a day because they were busy toggling between systems and manual processes. Simple things like clicking a button to email a statement versus printing one out and mailing it have helped make our calls easier and more efficient.
Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery launched the Cedar Suite, Cedar’s end-to-end platform in October 2021. What’s been the combined impact of using both Cedar Pre and Cedar Pay?
AS: With Cedar Pre, we’re seeing more patients update their demographics and they are more willing to upload their insurance card versus having it at the time that they checked in at the clinic. The check-in questionnaire is really simple for our patients to use and in just a few steps, they can verify their information is correct or update as needed.
As a result, it has had a huge impact downstream because we now have valid insurance information that we can promptly bill. We also have the most up-to-date contact information so we can effectively communicate bills to patients. This amplifies what we’re already doing on the back end.
See how much net profit Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery added to their bottom line with the Cedar Suite.
Ben Kraus is a Content Strategy Manager at Cedar