How often do you return for service at a business where your experience was less-than-ideal? Most consumers would probably say never. It’s the same for patients.
A Consumer-Friendly Patient Financial Experience Boosts Loyalty
Even if the clinical experience was excellent, when patients become frustrated during the billing and payment process, Health Systems risk losing loyal patients. When they need care in the future, they will likely visit a Health System that delivers a more consumer-friendly patient financial experience. To ensure your Health System provides a consumer-friendly patient financial experience that drives loyalty, we’ve compiled this checklist of must-have functionalities.
1. Convenient, Digital-First Payment Options
Consumers often interact with businesses on their own time via smartphone apps or online. Healthcare is heading in the same direction. In fact, Accenture reveals that a majority of health consumers now expect more digital interactions with providers. Today’s patients expect intuitive online and mobile-friendly payment options. These digital technologies also allow patients to make payments regardless of the time or their location. Patients can’t always pause their schedule to make a payment during your Health System’s business hours. Digital-first payment options don’t restrict payments to business hours, which is convenient for patients and expedites the payment process for Health Systems.
2. Personalized Financial Communication
Tailoring your Health System’s outreach to patients is no easy task, but it’s not impossible if you focus on two things: a patient’s expressed preferences and their behavior. First, offer patients their choice of financial communication methods. Research from Pew reveals that more than 75 percent of Americans own a smartphone and use email. Statistics like this highlight the various channels Health Systems can use to engage patients, which makes it important to accommodate their communication preferences. Some may prefer mailed statements while others may opt-in for eBills or text messages.
In addition, Health Systems should adapt their follow up communication to patient behavior. Sometimes patients aren’t sure what they prefer or their preferences may change. Perhaps a patient opts in for eBills, but hasn’t opened the emails. By monitoring that behavior and adjusting communication tactics, like following up with a text reminder, this common issue can be addressed. Patients are busy and will appreciate efforts that make engagement as convenient as possible.
3. Accommodation for Patients’ Financial Needs
More than half of Americans cannot afford a $1,000 bill without borrowing money. However, when a patient needs care, they shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their budget. Health Systems must recognize this and provide flexible payment options that accommodate their patients’ financial needs. For some patients that may involve securely storing their card on file and setting up an automatically recurring payment date for a few months. Larger bill balances may require longer-term financing options. These options ensure patients can pay their medical bills without breaking their budget and improve the overall financial experience.
4. Experimental with Data and Machine-Learning
Large Health Systems stand to benefit from machine learning and experimentation because together, they support a more consumer-friendly patient financial experience. Machine learning uses historical data to help predict future outcomes. If that outcome doesn’t meet your expectations, your Health System can conduct experiments to identify ways to improve.
For example, if your Health System wants to improve its pay-in-full rates, you could experiment by offering a discount for patients with bill balances over a certain amount that pay-in-full. If this positively impacts payment rates, your Health System may decide to make it a permanent offer. Experimenting and making incremental improvements will help perfect the financial experience for patients and promote more patient payments.
By prioritizing these four initiatives within the revenue cycle, your Health System will provide a consumer-friendly patient financial experience. Following this checklist will ensure patients are satisfied with their entire episode of care, all the way through billing and payment. Satisfied patients are loyal patients. Maintaining that loyalty sets your Health System up for a future with more patient payments and bottom line growth.