We've seen the risks revenue cycle leaders take by not treating patients like consumers (Consumerism is the New Ball Game), and we’ve learned about how offering payment options (Solving the Patient Pay Challenge) and creating a digital engagement platform (Mastering the Art of Digital Patient Engagement) can set an organization on a path to success. But what does that success look like? What impact can these changes have?
Part four: Results
Many of the most compelling reasons to adopt a new mindset that treats patients more like consumers are financial. But, as we will see, there are less tangible but no less important payoffs as well.
Bad debt reduction
When patients are offered payment options and convenient ways to make those payments, they are far more likely to pay their medical bills in full. That means fewer patient accounts being sent to a third-party for collection or being written off completely as bad debt. Given that some providers write off up to 60% of patient receivables, even a relatively small reduction in bad debt can mean thousands, if not millions, of dollars gained each year.
Increased cash flow
Patients making regular payments give a boost to monthly cash flow for providers. Even better, patients who opt for EFT payments contribute more than cash—they help create predictability, consistency, and stability for providers.
Larger market share
Savvy patients—and with their expenses increasing each year, many of them are getting savvier—know to shop around for healthcare services that cater to their unique situations. A provider that offers excellent care, payment options that work for the patient, and personalized digital interaction is more attractive and will gain market share over those providers that continue to treat patients as merely payers.
Increased patient loyalty and referrals
Satisfied patients are the best ambassadors a provider can ask for. Not only will patients who are happy with the care they received return for future visits, but they will tell their friends and family members about it. And with more people turning to social media and online reviews for recommendations for all kinds of services, including healthcare, a happy patient will attract more happy patients.
Higher staff morale and efficiency
As patients’ out-of-pocket costs go up, so do the number of uncomfortable conversations RCM front-line staff must have with patients who can’t afford their medical bills. This is stressful for all involved. But when those conversations center around options and financial assistance for patients, everyone is happier. This can significantly improve employee morale, which means less staff turnover and increased productivity.
Implementing a digital patient engagement platform can eliminate many of the time-consuming processes staff must undergo every day. RCM employees can focus their time and energy on improving the patient experience rather than sending out reminders and fielding phone calls from frustrated and confused patients.
Greater ability to fulfill our mission of population health
Many of us joined the healthcare field because we had a desire to help the people of our communities. Our collective—and individual—mission is to make sure our friends, family, and neighbors are as healthy as possible. But when patients can’t afford their healthcare, they sometimes opt not to receive it. And when they do, the burden of the final bill creates stress and can exacerbate whatever malady sent them to the doctor in the first place. If our mission is to ensure the health of our communities, we must help them find ways to pay for that care as well.
The game has changed, but you can’t win if you aren’t playing. Healthcare providers that recognize the new playing field and quickly adapt to it by using the strategies we’ve laid out in this series better ensure that they are still standing at the end of the day.