Few things are spookier to an enterprise than missing out on revenue. For Health Systems, lost revenue makes it difficult to create sustainable value for their organization and the communities they serve. One of the best ways to ensure your Health System maintains its financial wellbeing is to understand the value of patient loyalty and take steps to nurture lasting patient relationships.

Consider The Value of a Happy Patient

Patient loyalty is one of your most valuable assets. The average value of a patient is $650,000 over the span of their lifetime, according to our data team’s recent analysis. Therefore, a loyal, satisfied patient is critical to your organization’s bottom line. To make it even scarier, the $650,000 in revenue is just for a patient. This figure does not take into account referral visits from family or friends of the patient.

On average, people tell seven friends or family members about their best or worst experiences. With social media added to the mix, that number increases dramatically. If the average patient relays their experience with a provider to just seven people, that provider could see an impact of more than $4.5 million in revenue. So, if the patient’s experience with the provider is a negative one, that becomes a massive missed revenue opportunity.

Make the Last Touch the Best Touch

It is also worth noting that just because the patient’s visit with the provider was positive does not mean the entire experience was seamless or enjoyable. Billing is typically the last touch a provider has with the patient, so if the billing experience is awful – that pain point may overshadow an otherwise positive visit.

Patients are often confused or frustrated by statements with undecipherable billing codes or bills with minimal information. The New York Times mentioned one patient who received a $45,000 hospital bill with the explanation “miscellaneous.” This lack of transparency, more often than not, results in nonpayment of the bill. Or worse, patients will share their frustration with their friends and family, discouraging others from visiting the offending provider.

Adding to the fear factor for Health Systems is the rising cost of healthcare. A majority of Americans, 55 percent, have received an unaffordable healthcare bill. At the same time, patients are responsible for larger portions of their healthcare bills. In fact, according to TransUnion, patients saw their average out-of-pocket costs increase by 11 percent in 2017. Rising costs mean that some Americans may avoid medical treatment altogether, even if treatment is deemed necessary. Needless to say, the consequences for this can be quite grim.

Collections Agencies Aren’t Always the Answer

For patients that decide to undergo treatment but cannot afford to pay, providers increasingly rely on collections agencies. While collecting some payment is better than nonpayment, using a collections agency is not always in a provider’s best interests. It results in a negative patient experience and can be very costly.

Not only can this hurt a Health System’s bottom line, it can also damage the patient-provider relationship. Trust is the foundation for a strong patient-provider relationship. Aggressive outreach from a collections agency on behalf of your Health System can leave a bad impression on patients and discourage them from returning.

Fortunately, these horror stories can be easily avoided if Health Systems take steps to improve the patient financial experience and Patientco can help. Offering tailored self-service finance options and facilitating a better billing and payment experience will drive patient satisfaction and loyalty.

Doing so will ultimately position more Health Systems for economic success. This success means they can better focus on what matters most: Providing patients with the highest level of care possible.