In the first two parts of this series, "Consumerism is the New Ball Game" and "Solving the Patient Pay Challenge" we’ve seen how rising out-of-pocket costs for patients negatively impacts both them and healthcare providers, and how offering payment options can boost patient experience and provider profitability. Along with payment options, many patients are seeking a way to interact with their doctors and billing departments online. Providers that offer those tools will be one step ahead of the competition.
Solutions: Digital patient engagement
Blame Amazon. Anyone with a Prime account will tell you all about the convenience of one-click shopping. We’ve come to expect the same ease and accessibility in other segments of our lives. Healthcare is no exception.
Patient-consumers’ changing expectations are forcing revenue cycle leaders to rethink how we engage them during the financial transaction. While this will feel like a burden to many, it’s a huge opportunity. Especially because it has been proven that a positive patient experience leads to increased collections and a boost in patient loyalty.
Keep it simple
Three out of four consumers are confused by their medical bills. This confusion can lead to a lack of trust in the amount due and, as a result, delayed or missed payments. A simple web tool or app that clearly communicates the total amount due, options for payment—such as credit cards or EFT—and instructions about who to contact with questions is the best way to keep patients engaged and ensure they pay their bills in full.
One of the reasons patients are so confused by their medical bills is that a single episode of care can result in several bills in different amounts coming from multiple providers. When patients know the total they owe and can make payments on that bundled amount, they are more likely to make regular payments and to pay the bill in full.
Let the patient choose communication
While 86% of medical bills are printed on paper and sent via regular mail, a growing majority of patients want to view, pay, and communicate about their bills online or via text using their mobile phone. When patients are allowed to select which form of communication they receive, they are more engaged and less likely to miss payments.
Segment groups for more personalization
We hear a lot about how millennials are changing the way we must interact with patients, but it’s not a single demographic that is seeking a more personalized approach. Targeted messages based on demographics and ability or willingness to pay are more effective, especially when they are delivered in the manner the patients selects (see above).
Once a patient has determined how they want to be communicated with, automated reminders can be sent to encourage payment. This saves staff time, increases the likelihood of on-time payment, and improves patient satisfaction and loyalty.
Once your organization has implemented the recommendations for payment options in part two and digital engagement in part three, what kind of results can you expect? Part four will delve into the positive impact treating patients like consumers can have on your organization and your staff.