The digital revolution is here, and just as in other industries like retail and banking, consumers expect to interact with their healthcare providers using a variety of touchpoints. From booking an appointment to paying a bill, online solutions like patient portals and billing apps are a welcome convenience that also serve to improve engagement and collections results. But while Cedar is known for designing technology that helps simplify the patient financial journey, it’s also clear that digital solutions can’t (yet) address all the complexities in healthcare that warrant the advocacy and high touch of a human expert ‒ like helping a patient understand what’s behind an unexpected charge or navigating insurance issues.
That’s where the Cedar Patient Success Advocate Team comes in. What started out as a two-person call center to support one of Cedar’s first health system clients in 2017 has scaled significantly to support client locations across the country. So what’s behind the team’s success? Tiffany Jackson, Director of Patient & User Success, and LaMonica Shelby, Patient Success Advocate Manager, shared the top three ways their team adds value to the patient experience as a supplement to Cedar’s technology platform.
1: Act as a Natural Extension to the Provider Organization
Healthcare providers not only rely on Cedar Patient Success Advocates to help lighten the load for their internal patient support teams, but also to provide a seamless patient experience on behalf of their organization. It’s a responsibility that Jackson and her team take very seriously. She recalled that, during a recent “secret audit” by a large health system client, “it was nerve-racking to not know whether we were engaging with a real patient or an auditor, but when the process was complete, we were thrilled to learn that we rated consistently higher than other, larger vendor partners in terms of the quality of support and engagement we provided.” Jackson attributes this to her team’s patient-centered approach. “We don’t operate on commission, which allows us to truly focus on a patient’s needs. We take the next call because we want to help someone, not because we’re trying to make another dollar.” Shelby adds that chat interactions are no exception. “At least once a day I hop on a chatline with someone who is pleasantly surprised to discover I am not a robot. They love that they can have personal interaction with a trusted expert right from their computer or smartphone, wherever they are in their day.”
2: Alleviate Patient Frustration and Confusion
With patient out-of-pocket financial responsibility at an all time high, it’s no wonder the most common phone and live chat inquiries are related to insurance coverage and confusion about what is owed. Through the Cedar patient payment platform, Patient Success Advocates have real-time visibility into the patient’s billing profile so they can walk them through what they owe and why, and help anticipate any potential billing issues. “Unless you work in the healthcare field, medical billing is so confusing and stressful,” said Jackson. “Patients just want to get a straight answer: Why is my bill so high? How can I tell what my insurance is going to cover or not cover? Will I get hit with more charges later? Our job is to give patients the guidance they need to reach a speedy resolution so they can get on with their lives.”
3: Represent the Patient Voice in Product Development
As liaison between the patient and healthcare provider, Patient Success Advocates are continuously gathering insights that help ensure Cedar’s technology is meeting patient needs and making their payment experience easier, which also provides a significant financial outcome for providers. “Advocates are the window into the patients, allowing us to incorporate the patient voice very early on in development, as well as for ongoing improvement once we’ve rolled out a product. Our products would not be the same without their input,” said Jackson.
Not surprisingly, given the insight they have from the patient’s perspective, Cedar’s Advocates are quite popular around the office. Engineering, product development and design teams invite them to regular update meetings and online forums to weigh in on everything from UI and paper bill design to CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) code translations. “Cedar is big on collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Everyone has a voice and they really value what we have to say, which has not always been the case in my previous roles with large call centers and insurance companies,” said Shelby.
Interested in learning more about how Cedar can help support your health organization’s patient experience? Contact us.
Meet the Team: Cedar Patient Success Advocates – Team Leads
Tiffany Jackson heads up the Patient & User Success Team at Cedar. She brings years of experience in hospital revenue cycle optimization and patient financial advisement, with prior roles at R1 RCM and Deloitte & Touche.
LaMonica Shelby, Patient Success Advocate Manager, has over eight years of medical billing, insurance and customer service experience. Prior to Cedar, she held customer solutions and escalation analyst roles at Blue Cross Blue Shield. When she’s not supporting patients, she is volunteering for the Special Olympics in her hometown of Raleigh, N.C.
Erika Hooper, Patient Success Advocate, brings years of customer service and billing experience from prior positions at LabCorp and Emory Healthcare. She has earned two degrees in public health and takes great pride in helping patients with their billing inquiries.
Mariel Arce, Patient Success Advocate, has over 10 years of medical billing, insurance and customer service experience. Prior to Cedar, she was a patient access & optimization specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego. Mariel holds a Bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.
Emmeline Xiao, Patient Success Advocate, desires to “curate the ultimate patient experience” with knowledge from her previous role as medical biller and claim specialist at Excelsior Integrated Medical Group.
Gabrielle Clarke, Patient Success Advocate by day, is working toward her Masters in Health Administration at Southern New Hampshire University by night. With the patient experience knowledge and insights she is gaining on the job at Cedar, she is aiming to graduate at the top of her class in 2020.