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Steven Huddleston is the president and CEO of PELITAS. He has spent his entire career in healthcare, primarily serving in a variety of financial and revenue cycle management leadership roles on the healthcare provider side, including chief operating officer and chief financial officer. He has worked at two of the nation's largest for-profit hospital chains, Hospital Corporation of America and Tenet Healthcare Corporation and has healthcare consulting experience at EY Consulting as well as Accenture, where he served as managing director in Accenture’s healthcare strategy practice.
In 2015, he took on the role as president at nThrive, a technology-enabled healthcare services organization, before joining PELITAS in 2018 as President & CEO. We caught up with him to find out how PELITAS is driving innovation in the patient financial experience.
PELITAS’s journey to Best in KLAS
PELITAS is a patient access technology company that provides an integrated end-to-end solution to hospital systems, to help patient access teams and patients navigate the patient experience. PELITAS makes it possible for patients to conveniently schedule appointments, navigate the intake process, and easily pay for their services. In 2019 and 2020, PELITAS was named Best in KLAS for its patient access software and technology and currently maintains that position today.
KLAS is the healthcare version of JD Power, and this is really an indication or voice of our customers around how we're doing as a software provider. Not only for the solutions we provide, but probably most importantly, for the service and the value that we're delivering through that software. We've made some significant investments in people and talent in our support functions, and we think those two years of Best in KLAS send a really strong message, as to how our clients’ value what we deliver for them on a daily basis.
Looking to the future of PELITAS, Huddleston notes the big move over the last 10 years to consumerism, putting the patient at the center of experience. PELITAS is laser focused on the overall patient experience. Our future is really focused on helping providers provide excellent financial experience, in addition to the clinical experience that they're providing. And one of the ways that we think that will happen, with consumerism and where the market's headed, is by giving patients greater choice in how they interact with their healthcare provider, how they select their healthcare provider, and ultimately, choice around the services, the amount that they pay for those services, and what setting of care they elect to get those services in.
I've always characterized provider healthcare as an industry that has been very slow to adopt react to change. Twenty years ago, patients went to the hospital or the physician that was closest to them. There wasn't great insight around quality, price, or choice. And what we've seen in the last 15 years is this movement to get providers to focus on giving their patients more options. I think that's a trend we're going to continue to see enormous transformation and innovation over the next 5 to 10 years.
Another offshoot of increased patient choice, Huddleston contends, is a continued movement away from hospital-based services and toward outpatient settings. The telemedicine model is another way patient choice is affecting the site of care. I think all of that benefits patients in the long run.
Supporting patients through COVID-19
During the pandemic, PELITAS recognized that it had an opportunity to support its provider clients, the majority of whom were impacted by COVID-19. One of the ways that we responded during the pandemic was that we developed a solution called Virtual Intake Management, which allows patients and providers to safely interact digitally or virtually using their smartphones or any device for that matter. This included everything from scheduling appointments, completing the patient intake process, to scheduling vaccinations as the vaccines were deployed.
We've used the pandemic as an opportunity to innovate and figure out how we could better serve providers and allow them to serve their patients in a way that takes away the traditional lobby or the traditional waiting room. Even things like a kiosk or iPads, which have the risks of germs and COVID-19 transmission, we've worked hard on developing alternatives that allow patients to schedule, register for, and financially clear their services in ways that are very mindful of the impact of the pandemic.
PELITAS approaches telehealth as complimentary to its efforts. We're not a telehealth or clinical services provider, but we partnered with telehealth providers. Many telehealth providers really just provide the direct clinical treatment, and we partnered to provide the scheduling, the referral, and the financial clearance aspect to telehealth providers.
Driving a new financial experience for patients
I think the biggest change and probably the best change that is emerging, and is still to come, is allowing patients a better financial experience. For years, healthcare has focused on clinical experience and clinical outcomes, but we've largely ignored how difficult it is for patients to understand their financial obligations, and what the cost of their services were.
And while providing great clinical care is paramount, many patients, after they've received great clinical care, don't receive such a great financial experience. They may get unexpected bills, and they may not understand how providers and facilities bill for their services. PELITAS is bringing real clarity and visibility into this financial experience for patients and simplifying it, so that it mirrors the great clinical experience that healthcare providers typically provide.