You already know that first impressions matter, but what about last impressions? At Patientco, we believe last impressions are just as important, especially for Health Systems. The healthcare financial experience is an opportunity to make a final, positive impression on a patient. An excellent clinical experience makes a great first impression on a patient. However, what happens several weeks later when the patient encounters the billing and payment experience?
This final interaction could be the difference between a satisfied patient who will return to your Health System, or a frustrated patient who will switch to a different provider.
In fact, a recent survey by Patientco revealed that nearly 80 percent of patients consider the billing and payment experience when choosing a provider. Yet, more than half of providers, 59 percent, will not invest in new consumer-friendly payment technology this year. Health Systems cannot afford to ignore the healthcare financial experience any longer. To empower a better experience, this blog will highlight opportunities for improvement. These tips are based on Patientco’s latest survey of patients and providers at large Health Systems.
The Healthcare Financial Experience Leaves Patients Concerned About Affordability
One survey question asked patients about their top concern when paying healthcare bills. Over 50 percent of patients are most concerned about being able to afford their bill. Patients also frequently mentioned concerns about understanding their bill, unexpected costs and whether the payment experience would be convenient and easy. Health Systems that address these common concerns, which were among the five most cited by patients, can significantly improve the healthcare financial experience.
With affordability and unexpected costs as top concerns for today’s patients, providers should communicate with patients about their costs and payment options prior to service. Proactively offering relevant payment options can alleviate patients’ concerns around affordability. In fact, Patientco’s survey says that most patients, over 90 percent, want the option to pay their medical bill in installments.
It shouldn’t be difficult for patients to enroll in flexible payment plans. Yet, most providers that offer payment plans use staff-intensive methods to enroll patients, like calling them, according to our survey. How often do you think a patient will answer their phone during a busy day when an unknown number calls? Support digital enrollment, where patients can sign up for a plan that suits their budget at any time on their preferred device. This makes it much easier for patients to afford their healthcare bills and supports a better healthcare financial experience.
To Generate Dollars, Bills Must Make Sense
Our survey also revealed that patients are concerned about understanding their medical bills. Complex medical terms and billing codes are confusing to patients. At worst, a statement with unfamiliar terms could lead a patient to believe they’ve been charged for the wrong service.
This doubt and confusion results in frequent calls to providers from patients with questions about their bill. When we surveyed providers at large Health Systems, respondents reported that nearly 60 percent of patient calls stem from confusing or incorrect bills. However, less than 8 percent of providers view confusing statements as a top concern. This must change because why would a patient pay a bill they cannot understand? Clear statements with patient-friendly billing language will reduce the number of patient calls that Health System staff must handle. Allocate that time to more worthwhile efforts instead of spending it on the phone.
Patients, Providers View the Healthcare Financial Experience Differently
We strive to empower Health Systems to deliver an experience that exceeds patient expectations. Patientco recognizes that providers rarely perceive the healthcare financial experience the same way that patients do. By uncovering those differences via our latest survey, Health Systems can use that intel to improve, leaving a positive, lasting impression on patients. Make your last impression a good one to ensure patients remain satisfied and loyal to your Health System.
Download the full survey, here.