Enabling Digital Transformation for Better Customer Experience and Results with Sutherland Healthcare’s Vice President of Client Engagement Paul Balcerzak

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Partner Spotlight:  Sutherland Healthcare

A Nordis client since December 2015, Sutherland Healthcare Solutions, Inc. has streamlined its operations by integrating its patient communications and payments with Expresso, ExpressoPay and Nordis Print/Mail Services. The firm uses the single solution to produce and distribute statements, letters and other patient billing documents for its healthcare system and physician group clients. The Nordis partnership provides critical capabilities to support Sutherland Healthcare’s strategic position as a digitally enabled transformation company.

How important is technology to growing your business?
We live and breathe technology. Everything is digital. We consider ourselves a digitally enabled transformation company, using digital technology and people to help our clients transform their businesses. It’s all about making the collection and revenue cycle processes faster, cheaper, better.

What are the biggest client pain points you are leveraging technology to solve?
The cost to collect is the biggest pain point. It’s $9 for every call to chase a patient payment. To make each call more effective or eliminate the need for the call, we are using analytics to identify who is more likely and able to pay and when is the best time to call. 

Expresso and ExpressoPay also play an important role. Expresso gives us the ability to generate really great patient communications that are easy to read, easy to understand, and customized for each provider client. And ExpressoPay makes it convenient for the patient to pay.

For one new client, the combination of Expresso, ExpressoPay and analytics has helped us improve patient collections by 25%.

How are you focusing on the patient journey for your clients?
The healthcare revenue cycle has traditionally been driven by insurance companies. Now commercial insurance patients are the largest payers as a group after Medicare and Medicaid. To improve the patient journey and collections, we are focusing efforts at the beginning of the patient engagement: Confirming patient benefits so their financial responsibility is established and clearly communicated before treatment, trying to collect payment upfront instead of at the end of the billing cycle. We’re doing more about financial assistance upfront, too, such as discussing and identifying payment plans, third-party contributions and other resources.

What applications are you focused on now?
Most are internal tools. We do a lot of work with robotic process automation (RPA). We’ve deployed RPA for a number of high-volume, repetitive activities that used to require someone intervening by computer or phone, such as checking claim status and benefits eligibility. We continue to look for activities to apply RPA. By definition, these activities involve accessing computer systems or the Internet, are repeatable and frequent.

We’ve automated workflows, not using RPA, such as medical coding. Expresso automates so much of our patient communications, plus patients can set up automatic payments through ExpressoPay.

Any mobile, omnichannel or digital wallet initiatives underway?  
Asynchronous communications is important. We want patients to interact with us when they want, as often as they want, through whichever medium they want. So those capabilities are important to us because we want to get there. While these features are part of our client discussions, the healthcare business is slow to adopt change and compliance remains a challenge.

How do patient communications and payment fit into your current and future business plans?
We continue to work toward being less dependent on phone calls and more dependent on paper and online interactions.

Has improving communications technology impacted patients and their providers?
Very dramatically. Expresso and ExpressoPay let us do more than ever before. Before partnering with Nordis, we were fairly manual and had no web payment presence. Now we can rapidly onboard new provider clients. It’s fast and easy to develop and change communications with no change order fees and we can segment statement messaging.  By having direct access to Expresso, we can be more responsive to our provider clients when they want to make a change to their letters and statements. Another great feature is the ability to add customized patient materials such as loyalty cards and welcome packets in our mailings.

What would surprise people about Sutherland Healthcare?
People may not know us because we are like the Intel Inside for healthcare providers’ revenue cycle management. We’re part of a $1 billion privately held organization. We have deep roots in the consumer business and are the third-largest unit among the larger Sutherland group of businesses.