Partner Spotlight: Avadyne Health
Avadyne Health’s CEO Jayson Yardley and Beau Lamontagne, Senior Director of Implementation Services
A Nordis client since 2017, Avadyne Health is a leader in patient self-pay account resolution and bad debt recovery for U.S. health systems. Ranked the 11th largest RCM firm in 2019 by Modern Healthcare, the firm leverages the latest technology to help hospital revenue cycle departments reduce costs, increase collections and improve patient satisfaction. Founded in 1971, privately held Avadyne Health manages $3 billion in patient accounts, serves more than 5 million patients and collects more than $1 billion in patient payments annually.
How important is technology to managing your patient communications and payments?
Jayson: Technology is critical to managing all of our communications and payments. There may not be a more critical time for technology than now, with our inability to connect in person and the growth in healthcare consumerism. In addition to streamlining and personalizing communications and payments with Expresso® and ExpressoPay®, we use technology to deliver a retail-like environment, in part by delivering more self-service options with a goal to reducing healthcare costs.
We are constrained by regulations when it comes to electronic communications. We are often required to send patient bills and other documents by mail. In the past few years, we’ve definitely seen a pickup in electronic and self-service payments. We’re trying to move the industry in that direction.
How do you see technology changing the revenue cycle management industry?
Jayson: There’s an opportunity to leverage technology to improve the patient financial experience by increasing the ease of self-service options and reducing manual processes. The Nordis solution allows us to personalize statements and make changes quickly and at a reduced cost, without having to engage with a technology resource to adapt the content. The self-service aspect of Expresso is key to our business.
Beau: We pride ourselves on being a valued partner with the hospitals we serve, and the autonomy we gain with Expresso and ExpressoPay supports a partnership relationship.
How has the pandemic impacted your operations?
Jayson: Our #1 focus was to protect the health of our employees. We have five facilities, including four call centers, and we transitioned our nearly 400-person workforce to remote work in about three weeks’ time. We had a limited work-at-home program already, so we were able to ramp it up quickly.
We purchased Google ChromeBooks for use by our remote employees, but after that, our VPN system made connectivity easy and we were able to route calls to these individual laptops with agents using plugin headsets.
We’ve been able to manage remotely and limit risk to the business as it has played out. The only employees we are bringing back to the office currently are those who cannot do their jobs remotely, such as our employees who go to courthouses to do filings. Licensure requirements also mandate that certain tasks be performed in our licensed facilities. But there has been leeway in some states during the pandemic if we registered individual homes for those purposes.
What patient financial experience-related initiatives are you focused on right now?
We prioritize anticipatory customer service. For example, we use speech analytics to track key words, like ‘COVID-19’ and ‘unemployment’ these days, and identify patterns from our call-center questions so we can provide better solutions before patients need to call and ask. We use the analytics to update training so our service reps are better prepared when they engage with patients.
We also shared this information with our provider clients so they could determine if they wanted to change their payment policies during the pandemic, such as accepting smaller monthly amounts or extending term lengths. With ExpressoPay, it’s simple to make provider-level changes and configure payment plan parameters that are unique to the patient.
What would surprise people about Avadyne Health?
Jayson: Our innovative use of technology for patient engagement. We developed an augmented reality app which patients download to their smartphones. With the AR app, patients can hold their phone over any part of a medical bill and the avatar Eve walks to that part of the bill and gives an easy-to-understand explanation and an easy way to pay the bill.
Since we launched the AR app at the end of 2019 at a 28-hospital system with no marketing, more than 1,369 people have downloaded it.
It’s making a big difference in service, prompt payment and operating costs. After patients open the app, over 93% click on the payment portal button while just 10% click on the button for calling a service rep. That’s compared to between 40% and 55% of patients who don’t have the option of using the AR app and instead reach out to our call centers with billing questions.
Another large health system has also gone live with our AR app in June.
How do patient communications fit into your future plans?
Jayson: We are focused on meeting patients where they are at and how they want to engage. Nordis gives us a common engine to communicate to patients with a whole list of communications channels.
In 2020, our development roadmap is focused on further integrating Expresso with our other workflow technology, expanding the use of SMS/text messaging and rolling out a geofencing feature in our app.
Jayson: Geofencing allows you to create a virtual fence around a location and send push notifications to a smartphone when someone enters that space, such as pulling into a hospital parking lot. We can send a map of the hospital, even COVID-19 related directions such as stay in your car and call the following number before entering the hospital or clinic, or a link to a patient satisfaction survey upon exiting the perimeter.
What’s your favorite Expresso or ExpressoPay tip or feature?
Jayson: Expresso and ExpressoPay give us the flexibility to make our own changes quickly.
Beau: Expresso gives us the visibility and ability to create statements from real data instead of mockups which has expanded our capabilities over previous vendor offerings.
With ExpressoPay, our patient service reps are servicing patients from multiple provider clients and the ExpressoPay architecture allows safe and optimal shifting between clients. It gives hospitals discretion for setting terms for payment plans, and the system is partitioned so it adheres to the attributes that each provider wants. So ExpressoPay is customizable, yet standard.
We also use the ExpressoPay library of APIs. The out-of-the-box API toolkit allows us to quickly set up a branded payment portal for a client.
What results have you seen since you began your partnership with Nordis?
Jayson: We’ve been going through a growth mode ever since Nordis has become our trusted thought leadership, communications, payments and print and mail partner. We’ve seen great results from how we’ve built out payment portals and customized our print solution alone. But the partnership also means Nordis is proposing and thinking about other solutions for us.
Beau: The payment process, including merchant processors, is far more seamless. Before, our clients used a mix of our own portal, Epic’s MyChart and other vendors. We had challenges along the way but now the payment processing runs smoothly.
The integration between Expresso and ExpressoPay is helpful for our clients as well. It’s addressing a business need that they maybe didn’t know they had. Now hospital staff can view statements, take payments at the front desk and more—and they can do it entirely online and in real time on a single system.