Mortgage servicers continue to be subjected to overwhelming obstacles as COVID-19 has spun record low delinquency rates into record highs. Attempting to address overburdening requests for relief from distressed homeowners that have lost or fear losing income and/or employment, servicers struggle to stay abreast of day to day challenges. While staff work remotely, servicers have had to implement a new wave of regulatory and investor requirements, amidst the onset of this year’s hurricane season, and record low interest rates producing portfolio inquires and runoff.
Have homeowners grown accustomed to mediocre service when they reach out for assistance from their mortgage servicer? Not in the least - today’s customers not only want the next generation of service, but they also need it. With approximately 4.7 million mortgages in COVID-19 forbearance at the peak back in May, assisting homeowners as they transition back to regular payments and/or seek the next phase of payment relief, is gearing up to be another immense undertaking.
It is hard to imagine that we are approaching the three-month mark for working under COVID-19. Keeping up with industry change as we continue to grapple with pandemic disaster has kept us all on our toes, from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to CFPB guidance to regular investor updates. Now more than ever, vendor partnership is an essential component to success. It's important to partner with an experienced, nimble innovator that can understand your unique needs, in addition to managing the ongoing maze of regulatory guidance.
While some hospitals prepare for a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, others have not yet reached the peak of the curve. In either case, hospitals are reopening non-essential services as states start various stages of reopening America. With an ongoing pandemic, what are the considerations? Will patients feel safe enough to show up for their care? Many people continue to be reluctant to return. Undoubtedly, it will take more than reassuring messages about safety and process, especially with contradictory information from friends or family on social media. In most cases, until an organization has demonstrated safety measures, the patient volumes will remain decreased. What can hospitals, surgery centers, and other medical facilities do to mitigate patient fears?
Self-quarantine resulting from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has propelled the industry into an entirely different mode of doing business. With barely two months passed since the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted, mortgage servicers have been thrown into a tailspin. Experiencing what many businesses have in the face of COVID-19, mortgage servicers now have their entire staff (for the most part) working from home, and all customers sitting at home as well trying to make contact for relief services. The exception is that not all businesses have customers receiving a pass to not make payments, while also having to foot the bill for nonpayment. Plus, the regulatory bodies have each issued and continue to update “temporary flexibilities” that require understanding, implementation, and tracking. The cherry on top is that mortgage servicers are now expected to ensure their customers all transition to a secondary relief plan, either six months in or a full year later, that at this juncture, is loosely defined at best.
A record number of homeowners have taken advantage of COVID-19 related forbearance, pushing the percentage of mortgages in forbearance up to 7.54 as of April month-end. The real concern today is that the disposition of these loans at the end of forbearance is extremely unclear. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security (CARES) Act, impacted homeowners who have federally backed mortgages can access up to 180 days of forbearance relief with the possibility to extend for an additional 180 days. The current industry concern is that details surrounding what happens when forbearance ends are extremely unclear, which may leave many financially stricken borrowers who took advantage of a COVID-19 forbearance in a precarious situation.
As servicers grapple with the numerous temporary “flexibilities” and “accommodations” that have been recently issued, accurately adhering to credit reporting requirements under COVID-19 may create long term issues for servicers, credit reporting agencies, and consumers. The credit protection offered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) is fairly nuanced from an implementation perspective and will require significant attention to requirements, implementation, and reporting.
The extensive suspension of elective surgeries due to the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly resulted in a significant economic hit to the orthopedic segment of the healthcare industry. There is no question the onslaught of the backlog will be stressful. But where do organizations even begin?
With skyrocketing unemployment, which will invariably lead to more delinquencies, consumers will have access to credit reporting relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) enacted on March 27, 2020. By modifying the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Regulation V, under Section 4021 of the CARES Act, protections have been put in place for consumers that need temporary “accommodations” due to the personal impact of COVID-19 on their livelihood.
As the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) rages on and lives are forever changed, our hearts go out to all of those on the front lines showing the entire world what modern-day heroes look like. As technology partners to healthcare organizations and caregivers, we are focused not only on keeping our employees and community as safe as possible, but are dedicated to actively examining current health and safety processes for healthcare organizations. Since social distancing is often not an option for caregivers, we must provide every opportunity and resource available to those working in healthcare organizations, and standardize these best practices.
As the world continues to struggle and change, the way we think of natural disasters evolves and changes along with it. When you hear the term natural disaster, images from the aftermath of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, and earthquakes come to mind. Over the last couple of months, we were introduced to a new kind of natural disaster, COVID-19.
Clarifire recently released its white paper on the current approach to customer-centric servicing and the corresponding key drivers as we head into a new decade. With ongoing fluctuation in business requirements and constrained resources expected to continue, informed and consistent communication with servicing customers is at the core of any successful servicing model. Albeit difficult to deliver on, as technology budgets and profitability margins remain constricted, mortgage servicers need to make a sizable effort to embrace their customer base. Whether looking to leverage cross-product penetration, increase retention, or simply endure the latest disaster obstacles, customer-centric servicing should be the focus.
So what does reducing waste in healthcare mean? Healthcare waste is defined as time, dollars, and services that do not add value - and can sometimes harm the patient. What it means is achieving the nirvana of triple aim – better care, better health, and lower cost.
Despite efforts to control healthcare spending in the United States, costs continue to soar. To combat healthcare costs on the rise, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed a Leadership Alliance Waste workgroup. This group is made up of 54 healthcare organizations working together to develop a strategy to reduce waste in healthcare by 50% over the next five years.1 In this blog, we are taking a look at some of their most successful concepts and aligning them with innovative, executable strategies.
What do you do when the standard approach to readmission reductions isn’t moving the dial on penalties? Your organization has implemented post-discharge calls and a data warehouse, yet you’re still looking at a 20% readmission rate. Perhaps it is time to consider a fresh and innovative look at how to positively impact readmission scores. A proven best practice for doing this is by examining complex clinical pathways, such as Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).
Today’s customers demand far more than an automated process from their mortgage bank or servicer. As servicers strive to improve overall efficiency through technology, many servicers may find themselves further behind the competition then they anticipated. With targets set on process automation, data accessibility, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity, efforts to innovate often fail to address the entire scope of digital, real time borrower engagement. One of the most important areas of engagement, mobile access, is evolving at an exponential rate, especially with the developing deployment of 5G. So, if mobile access has fallen to the bottom of your technology strategy, you may need to rethink your approach.
Patients staying in long-term care facilities are of the most vulnerable population. Many residents are suffering from chronic illnesses, or have become patients following acute hospitalizations. In addition, long-term care (LTC) facilities often include a large geriatric population. Whatever category they fall under, many of these patients require skilled nursing. It is no wonder then that CMS has taken a hard stance to improve safety, quality care, and experience for these patients. Effective November 28, 2019, a 2016 Final Rule from CMS mandates all LTC facilities operate a compliance and ethics program, including eight major components that cover new regulatory requirements.
Those involved in healthcare today are well aware the industry has shifted from volume-based to consumer-driven, value-based care, with a significant focus on patient experience and quality outcomes that tie back to insurance reimbursements. Because of the shift, the majority of hospitals have implemented quality-focused programs, and use mobile technology that provides real-time visibility for crucial patient data for making evidence-based decisions. The reality is that mobile technology is no longer a ‘nice to have’; it is the new normal for patient care.
In today’s digital environment, the number of vendors delivering large platform-based systems remains high. However, this approach is fast becoming dated as it slows down the ability of the servicer to evolve interoperability, impairs the capacity to integrate various systems, including access to data, and is typically costly and cumbersome to implement.
It is hard to believe 2019 is over. The year rocketed by as we watched healthcare disruption manifest in numerous ways. We saw large-scale changes, such as CVS and Aetna team up, Uber expand their ridesharing in the healthcare industry, and Amazon join forces with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to slash healthcare prices for their 1.1 million employees. We also saw changes on a smaller scale that packed a punch. Take patient experience HCAHPS surveys for an example. Most know the impact of these surveys can be the difference between a financial loss or gain. Therefore, when Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) removed pain management questions from the HCHAPS survey in 2019, the industry took notice.
Providing a good patient experience as part of quality care is not new, and has always been important. The implementation of the HCAHPS survey only increased the importance and made it top-of-mind for healthcare leaders. CMS and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) collaborated to develop the HCAHPS survey, implementing it in 2006. It was the first national survey to provide public data related to the patient’s perspective of care while in the hospital. Sharing the data publically incentivizes hospitals to improve quality to compete with other hospitals, and provides consumers with side-by-side quality ratings to consider when choosing their provider. The standardized questions on the survey became an integral piece of the quality puzzle, with measures directly tied to Medicare reimbursements and heavy financial penalties for sub-par quality.
For anyone who attended the FONE 2019 Educational Conference on November 7 and 8, it was evident the focus was promoting healthy work environments using evidence-based practices. Even though the conference was just a month ago, it seems like light years during this busy holiday season. Today we will recap what the leaders spoke about, and leave you with a few things to consider that will elevate your staff engagement in 2020!
Disaster risk exposure relative to homeowner’s insurance has become a mounting concern for mortgage servicers as the number of natural disaster events remains high. Servicers need workable strategies to protect mortgage collateral as they face an increasing number of disaster events toppling the $1 billion mark. In this escalating disaster environment, mortgage servicers find themselves chasing insurance coverage options to help minimize their risk exposure.
Bank of America recently released the 2019 Fall Homebuyer Insights Report, which finds that homeowners value not only the financial equity that comes with homeownership but also the social and emotional benefits. Conveying several aspects of well-being that have been expanded with homeownership, including hobbies, interests, and family dynamics, information gathered from new homebuyers acknowledged that owning a home is considered an important element of one’s lifestyle. Affirmation of positive homeownership sentiments indicates that borrowers have moved beyond the financial crisis attitude whereby abandoning one’s home was considered an acceptable response to default.
Recently the Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published their long-awaited plans for housing finance reform. While the plans are most recognized for their proposed changes to government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), they also introduce suggestions for amending Federal Housing Administration (FHA) programs and guidelines, including specific guidance on default servicing.
Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HACs) and infections are illnesses or complications that were not present when the patient was admitted to the hospital, but developed as a result of errors or accidents in the hospital.(1) In an effort to improve patient safety and quality within hospitals, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed the HAC Reduction Program in 2015. Since the program was introduced, studies show that hospitals have made considerable progress in reducing HACs.(2) However, there is plenty of room for improvements with some common and troublesome HACs.
There is a lot of focus on patient satisfaction and experience in healthcare, and for good reason. Patient Experience is a key contributor to overall hospital quality measures and insurance reimbursements. In addition, patient satisfaction and experience have been linked time and again to improved patient outcomes. Although we sometimes view satisfaction and experience as the same thing, they are different. Both satisfaction and experience are equally important and require ongoing communication passed between caregivers, as well as from caregivers to patient. A famous physician from Canada, Sir William Osler, once said: “A good physician treats the disease and a great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”(1) The same applies to patient satisfaction and experience. Focusing on creating a satisfied patient who has a positive experience is the key for driving hospital quality and patient loyalty.
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